What Have The Unions Done For Me? - And Response

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Here's some facts on what the unions have done for the American working through negotiations.

Weekends off, breaks including lunch breaks, paid vacations, sick leave, paid medical leave, social security, minimum wage, 8-hour work day, overtime pay, child labor laws, 40-hour work week, worker's comp, pensions, age discrimination, sexual harassment laws, holiday pay, military leave, equal pay acts of 1963 and 2011, and laws ending sweat shops in the United States just to name a few.  For these benefits you should thank a union.

Chuck Mehan
East Ridge  

* * *

Like most folks, I have some thoughts on the coming vote regarding the UAW and our Volkswagen assembly plant.  These thoughts are from my upbringing and surely influenced by my parents.  I won't go into them, but with all the publicity the vote is getting, I have been giving it some thought. 

In an effort to remove my personal thoughts, I have pondered the union question and tried to understand what the real issue is.  Potential added costs to VW vehicles is often touted as a downside.  Tremendous strides in workplace quality and fairness by the union is shouted back by the other side. 

The question that keeps coming to my mind is, "why does the UAW want to add the 1,600 Chattanooga VW workers to its rolls?"  Otherwise stated as "what's in it for the UAW?" 

I see three possible reasons why the UAW might want to unionize our VW plant. 

1.  The addition of 1,600 new members.  To a group whose membership numbers 250,000 (using numbers I have seen on this site), that is only a .64 percent increase in the UAW's rolls - doesn't seem like a significant increase. 

2.  The leadership of the UAW may have an enormous, altruistic concern for the welfare of the Chattanooga/VW 1,600 workers and only wants to represent them to protect their interests and rights. 

3.  Establishing labor representation at a foreign manufacturer in the Southeast might be strategically important to the future of the UAW itself. 

If others can point out additional reasons, I would be happy to hear them. 

My conclusion after considering the above reasons, is that only #3 could warrant the effort and expense the UAW has expended to win the coming vote. 

That said, I would hope that the employees would consider the motivation of both sides lobbying for their own interests.  As a Chattanooga native, my concern is for the best interest of our community.  That includes the 1,600 that will actually be voting.  I remember the staggering number of applicants when the jobs were posted.  VW got to select from the cream of Chattanooga's labor crop.  I don't remember union representation being a concern at that time. 

Again, if I am overlooking additional reasons for the UAW's motivation, please point them out.  I fear that their motivation is self serving and has little to do with the interests of the 1,600 Chattanooga workers that will be determining the outcome. 

However the vote goes, I wish the best for all of us. 

J. Scott Gentry
Ringgold


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