Workers Should Beware The UAW

Monday, April 15, 2019

Five years after employees at Volkswagen's Tennessee plant rejected representation by the United Auto Workers, the union is back for another try. A vote is expected as soon as the end of this month. 

While the UAW labors to find a way into this Volkswagen plant, let me tell you how my co-workers and I fought tirelessly to get the same union out of ours.

I live and work in Hamilton, Al., a three-hour drive west of the Chattanooga plant where the UAW hopes to take control. My employer, the NTN-Bower corporation, manufactures the roller bearings used in the wheels of passenger automobiles and other forms of transportation. It's safe to say the plant, which has been in Hamilton since 1972, is the livelihood for the hundreds of people it employs in Marion County. 

The UAW first organized the plant in 1976, and for most employees the union was a fact of life--for better or worse. I first became aware of the UAW's lack of less-than-beneficial in 2007, when a prolonged strike threatened to shut down the plant. My husband and son both worked there; our family needed the income, so they crossed the picket line and continued to work. It was a dangerous decision; strikers were aggressively harassing employees who continued to work, using racial slurs and even dropping tacks to try to flatten their tires.

Someone had to stand up for families like mine who simply couldn't risk going on strike. I wrote a letter to the editor in support of the employees who crossed the picket line, and received encouraging phone calls from families around town. I was even at the plant so often in support of my husband and son that I decided to get a job there myself. It didn't take me long to see first hand how the UAW was putting the plant at risk. The union's leaders were willing to gamble with the livelihoods of hundreds of workers, and were actively protecting lazy and incompetent employees who made the rest of us look bad. 

The union had to go. I started collecting signatures on a petition to remove (or "decertify") the UAW from our plant. That's easier said than done: The union and its enablers started their own campaign of intimidation, threatening employees who dared to cross them. These threats were personal for me; during my signature-gathering process, I frequently had harassing phone calls made to my house, and even had three of our family dogs die under mysterious circumstances.

It was a very difficult time for me and my family. To this day, I can't talk about these events without crying. But someone had to stand up to these bullies, who definitely did not provide respect and dignity in the workplace. 

Faced with a plant whose employees no longer wanted it, the union used its tried-and-true playbook to toss up legal barriers--an effective stall tactic, thanks to its massive bank account and army of lawyers. The union actually lost multiple decertification votes, but used its legal might to get earlier results voided. Finally, in 2015, we kicked the UAW out of plant in Hamilton for good.

Today, my story should stand as a cautionary tale for workers who are evaluating the union's track record--a track record that today includes a federal investigation for corruption. The UAW will make lots of promises to workers during its campaign that it's under no obligation to keep. But like a roach motel, once you check in to the UAW, it's difficult if not impossible to check out.

Ginger Estes
Employee at the NTN-Bower Corporation in Hamilton, Al. 



Roy Exum: Lucado: Want A Partner?

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

Does Only One Political Party Care For Us?


This may be a bit personal but I’m not going to apologize. Some of my best buddies are “going through the fire” right now and, while I dare not give examples or share names, this gives me the ... (click for more)

Hooray for The Saturday Funnies! Before we begin with some wonderful one-liners from some of history’s greatest people, let me remind you we don’t write the Funnies. Instead they are gleaned ... (click for more)

There is a great deal of discussion dismissing the death toll of COVID-19. The number varies and is now close to 700,000. Pandemics historically have done considerable damage to the world population, ... (click for more)



Opinion

Roy Exum: Lucado: Want A Partner?

This may be a bit personal but I’m not going to apologize. Some of my best buddies are “going through the fire” right now and, while I dare not give examples or share names, this gives me the avenue to forward this column along. “Hey, here’s a piece I wrote for Sunday that you might enjoy.” I do that every now and again, when I write something I think is funny or when I write something ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

Hooray for The Saturday Funnies! Before we begin with some wonderful one-liners from some of history’s greatest people, let me remind you we don’t write the Funnies. Instead they are gleaned from the emails we gather from those that are sent to us each week. If you have a great funny, please send it to royexum@aol.com and we’ll share it. * * * GREAT ONE-LINERS FROM THE WORLD’S ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Game Ends In Chaos As Kiffin Returns To Knoxville And Narrowly Wins

The long-awaited return of Lane Kiffin to Neyland Stadium ended in chaos as many in the crowd of over 102,000 tossed hundreds of bottles and other debris onto the field, causing a 25-minute delay and injuring some fans who were hit in the head by flying objects. Tennessee still had a chance at a comeback in the final 54 seconds, but two final efforts to get into the end zone ... (click for more)

Injured Motorcyclist Rescued On Lookout Mountain Saturday Evening

An injured motorcyclist was rescued Saturday evening on Lookout Mountain. Chattanooga Fire Department Squad 20, Squad 13, And Battalion 1 Chief (Red) assisted in rescuing the driver from an embankment. (click for more)

Sports

Tennessee Comeback Falls Short As Kiffin's Ole Miss Rebels Prevail, 31-26

Heisman candidate Matt Corral completed 21 of 38 passes for 231 yards and threw two touchdown passes, but the story of the night is what he did with his legs. Corral had a career-high 195 yards on the ground as Ole Miss silenced a hostile Tennessee crowd and left town with a wild 31-26 victory over the Volunteers. In total, Corral made up 426 of 510 total yards for the Rebels. ... (click for more)

Maxwell Leads Defense As Mocs Prevail, 21-16

Devonnsha Maxwell lined up shaded just outside the right tackle’s shoulder. He blasted out of his stance and knocked the Buccaneer blocker backward. Maxwell bent around the edge, lunged toward ETSU quarterback Tyler Riddell, and brought him to the ground for one of his three and a half drive-killing fourth quarter sacks. Maxwell’s school-record 4.5 sacks on the day was a UT-Chattanooga ... (click for more)