Friday, February 21, 2014

The UAW Vote in Chattanooga

A few days ago workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee voted against organizing as part of the UAW. This was unexpected since the plant was in favor of the union. So what happened?

The short answer is that unions have almost nothing to offer anymore. I have pro-union friends on Facebook who post lists of things that unions brought us. The big problem with that list is how old all of the accomplishments are.

Unions may have been needed a century ago but things have changed. The government now performs many of the functions that unions used to provide. A highly mobile workforce means that employers have to treat workers well or lose them. Automation has replaced some of the worst jobs.

At the same time, unions have become bloated. It can't have escaped the Volkswagen employees that two of the big three American car makers needed government bailouts because of union benefits.

While they seem to have cleaned themselves up, the term "corruption" often follows "union".

Unions have also become politically active and polarized. Republican workers have little incentive to vote for unions, knowing that some of their dues will be used to help Democrats.

Put it all together and there is little incentive for workers to unionize.

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