After more than a year of campaigning, a failed attempt to unionize employees without a secret-ballot vote, less than two weeks ago, the United Auto Workers were given unprecedented access to conduct a campaign inside of Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The union reportedly dispatched 20 organizers into the plant. They wore black UAW t-shirts and were given access to employees on company-paid time, company offices, access to break areas and lunch rooms.
With so many people roaming through their plant, some employees complained it felt like they were “on lockdown.”
The black-shirted UAW organizers were allowed to stay in the plant all the way up to 11:59 pm on the even of Wednesday’s vote.
Over a three-election period, and despite all of the help Volkswagen gave to the UAW, a majority of VW workers rejected the UAW in a NLRB-conducted, secret-ballot election.
This is, according to the Detroit Free Press, a ‘devastating defeat.’
The UAW suffered a devastating defeat at Volkswagen’s plant here as workers rejected union representation by a 712-626 margin.
The defeat, which came despite Volkswagen’s neutrality, tarnishes UAW President Bob King’s legacy and could make it next to impossible for the union to extend its reach beyond domestic automakers.
In the face of the loss, Gary Casteel, who led the UAW’s campaign for the union, made it sound as though the union was going to continue casting blame on the UAW’s loss on ‘outside influence.’
We think it was unfortunate that there was outside influence,” said Gary Casteel, UAW regional director who led the unsuccessful campaign. “I want to urge the VW employees to go back to the business of building cars. There are some issues to be sorted out.
It appears as though Mr. Casteel does not recognize that his dispatching union organizers into VW’s plant from other cities–even other UAW-represented automakers–may have actually hurt the UAW’s cause more than it helped it.