Roy Exum: UAW Voices In Detroit

Thursday, April 24, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Today we are going to eavesdrop on somewhat of an open conversation that was held far to the north after the United Auto Workers surprisingly dropped a legal challenge with the National Labor Relations Board in Chattanooga the first thing on Monday morning. The NLRB judge certified the VW workers’ February vote to turn away the UAW at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen manufacturing plant a short while later that same day but the roil – as you will soon see -- was just starting.

The Detroit News, a giant of a newspaper that has been publishing since 1873, has reported on the automotive industry since its inception and, obviously, today the city is notoriously noted for its close connections with the UAW. So while we can only assume most of those in Detroit who commented on the Chattanooga revelations are well-versed in UAW matters, the comments that flooded in after the story appeared make for interesting reading.

The Detroit readers, in a story entitled, “UAW drops VW vote challenge,” noted where UAW President Bob King “cited refusals by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn, to participate” and read where Harley Shaiken, a University of California-Berkley labor studies expert, said the union faced “no upside and a clear downside.” Shaiklen added, “They (the UAW) came to the realization that even winning would have meant delaying a union longer” than a new vote (in 2014).”

David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, told the newspaper it was better not to be portrayed as “a sore loser. I think they thought it was likely they would not win,” Cole explained, saying “It’s better to play another day.”

With that said, here are the reactions of some who read the story in the Detroit News:

* * *

BRENDAN COTTER: “The UAW is just upset that they were not the only ones allowed to campaign. Since when is the exercise of free speech considered "sabotage?”

JAMES WILLARD: “Bullplop!!! When does the UAW surrender on anything? Oh yeah, when their lawyers advise them they have a case without merit they would lose so soundly that it would actually embarrass the union.”

RICK SUTLIFF: “That is actually what happened. The NLRB was going to quickly dismiss the appeal so the UAW turned tail and ran.”

SHELLY LYNCH: “Actually I suspect the UAW was going to win the appeal. The problem was the ‘win’ would be a new election. What the Governor/Senator did was pretty darn close to the line if not well past it. The problem is common sense. If the "threats" caused the UAW to lose the election the first time, they wouldn't need restating. And the UAW would just lose the revote. The ironic thing is there’s a strong chance, the ‘threats’ weren’t needed and the UAW would’ve lost the vote without them. Any UAW NLRB win would've been Pyrrhic and burned them when they lost the revote. Hence the drop.”

RICK SUTLIFF: “Shelly Lynch, Then why did they appeal in the first place? Just to fold a day before the hearing and look ridiculous? They accomplished that quite nicely.”

DAVID RAINS: “The unions ruined Detroit and the Big 3 U.S. Automakers. Unions were born of need and will die of greed. Let us see if the union kicks in the 50 million to the DIA rescue fund.”

NORM FANKELL: “Oh… I understand…. the will of the majority doesn't count. Good thing we have lawyers and judges.”

CLEM ZAHROBSKY: “The UAW is not interested in what it can do for the local workers. It wants the dues money so it has a seat at the nation table of politics by big contributions to the politicians.”

RICK SUTLIFF: “The majority is finally recognized. Apparently Bob King thinks losing by about a hundred votes is not the will of the people. It is.”

DAVID BLAKENEY: “The union has to save their money so they can help the dumbocrats lose in November.”

BILL HARTNELL: “Well, since the UAW still works at the Chrysler plants, they already have a foreign automaker on their rolls...BTW- The idiot I was behind in traffic the other day driving the Chrysler Van with the "Out of a job yet?" bumper sticker on it...yes, I was laughing AT you and your stupidity...”

TOM POWELL: “The Fall of the UAW is coming for the writing is on the wall!”

RICK SUTLIFF: “I think we heard the thud already.”

DAVID HARTMAN: “Translation: We had no case and would have wasted lots of $$$$$, only to prove we had no case...”

JOSEPH OVERAITIS: I am disheartened by the UAW. I remember from my family in my younger years. In taking up the fight to unionize the VW plant the union said it did so with the employee's working conditions and salaries at heart. When it filed the appeal the UAW again said it did so for the worker's whose rights needed to be heard. Now in the final hour the UAW is more concerned with congressional hearings rather than fighting still for the workers; who seemingly will have to wait for congress to resolve an issue. Again, the UAW is going to congress to resolve an issue seems to be a bad joke rather than reality. Years ago the UAW fought for the workers, but lately under Mr. King it seems to be more concerned with the political power it wants to wield rather than the workers it is supposed to represent. The UAW feels now it wants to deal more on the macro level but it has left the micro level of protecting workers as a mere afterthought. The UAW can attempt to say now it needs to fight issues on a larger scale and that is why it is going to congress for hearings but look at the reality of the situation that is bringing them to congress. The workers of VW were merely pawns in the UAW's Game of Thrones. The UAW told the workers at VW it would fight with them in solidarity till the end of the appeal, so I guess solidarity is not what it once meant to a child raised in a UAW household because in the dawn of that final battle the UAW has left the workers to their own fate.”

FRANK PERKIN: “King is much more interested in advancing his socialist agenda than his members welfare. They are just his pawns. “

JODY O’DONNELL: “Joseph, maybe the VW workers did not need the UAW? They work in a new modern and safe plant and earn on par with new UAW auto workers. The UAW could not present to them a compelling proposition for them to pay 2 hours of their monthly pay. That is why the UAW could only muster up 42% of eligible voters to support their 2 year effort.”

ROGER DAVIS:  “Jody O’Donnell, Seems 42% were not satisfied with the way things are and the other 9% were just plain scared especially after Corkers intervention … Just a matter of time before a Foreign Plant goes UAW the numbers of votes are creeping up every vote taken … RTW is feeling the pressure and Corker is too …

WILLIAM MURRAY: “The UAW dropped the appeal due to the fact that they knew they were up against a fair vote of the employees. Blaming their dropping of the appeal on the NLRB is more than a little suspect since the NLRB has been a pillow pal of the unions for years. The UAW employs some good lawyers and they told King that he had no chance with this one.

DENNIS DONAHUE: “Well, well where's all the union trolls? Next up the SUV announcement, sit down, get a beer, and commence crying.”

JEFF BICKERSTAFF: “Better get it done before November, Bob.”

ALLAN YEE: “I'm sure Bob King didn't want the publicity of spending millions more on an appeal to the NLRB on a fight he had little chance on winning; and at the same time raising union dues 25%. He should just admit that his dream of Global Unionization is just a pipe dream; and stick to improving the lives of his own UAW members. But, his hand pick successor will not be very much different.”

JERRY LA PERE: “The employees voted. A majority did not want the union and it is the National Labor Relations board who is standing in the way. No, it is the union lost the vote and they cannot accept it. Why can't you accept people are not for unions as they are now, but perhaps would be glad to accept them if they were truly looking after workers and not for financing the union's leadership and political agenda.”

MIKE NOVAK: “I know people are gunna hate me for this, but since it's a global free market and the free world has to compete with slaves, how do unions even argue their case?”

JEF FREY: “Maybe king and the UAW should put some of their War Chest dollars into the Detroit City worker's underfunded pensions, or is solidarity only shown by sympathy strikes? Oh wait, that’s right. They overpromised their workers too!”

ROBERT O’CONNOR: “The UAW claims the election was "tainted" because a Republican Senator commented on it (never mind that President Obama commented on it too, but in favor of the union). The UAW lost because the workers realized they had more to lose joining this undisguised feeder arm of the Democratic Party than they had to gain. Labor unions do more harm to their workers than good, and those folks in Tennessee, without Volkswagen campaigning hard against the union, could see that. Here is a dare: UAW hold an election of your members in Michigan and see if they want to quit your union.”

RICH GIBSON: “The UAW bosses exchange the pacified labor of the work force for dues income that makes the UAW tops' lives ever so much better--and they don't have to work on the line. That is exactly what is left of the meaning of "collective bargaining." It's an extortion racket. For the life of the contract (full of concessions that never saved jobs) the UAW hacks guarantee nothing will happen on the shop floor that will disturb the big bosses. The big bosses then collect the money from the workers, send it to the UAW bosses. Unions today are not what most people think they are. VW workers must have known they didn't need the UAW to take their money---to surrender to VW. They could do that alone.”

* * *

As you might guess, the comments keep coming at the end of each story about the UAW in the Detroit News. It sounds to me like those still in Detroit are a bit disgruntled, which is notable indeed after the UAW spent an alleged $5 million trying to pull VW workers down to the Detroit workers’ level.

royexum@aol.com



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