The United Auto Workers staged a face-saving strategic retreat on Monday in its campaign to organize Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. That’s good news for workers and car makers in the South but maybe not for Detroit’s Big Three.
The UAW surprised nearly everyone by dropping the appeal it had made to the National Labor Relations Board after workers at the VW plant voted 712 to 626 in February to reject the union. UAW chief Bob King cited the NLRB’s “historically dysfunctional and complex process” that would drag on for months, though President Obama’s NLRB is the most labor friendly in decades.
Mr. King also blamed Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Senator Bob Corker for fighting the union’s attempt to organize the plant and refusing “to participate in a transparent legal discovery process.” But the two politicians had merely exercised their First Amendment rights in publicly noting the threat to business in the state if the UAW prevailed.
The likelier explanation is that the UAW concluded it would lose a second election if the NLRB had ordered one. …
The union may also have feared a federal lawsuit filed by anti-union workers at the plant alleging that Volkswagen violated Section 302 of the Taft-Hartley Act, which prohibits employers from giving a “thing of value” to a union seeking to organize its employees. In Chattanooga, VW gave the union free run of the plant that it denied to union opponents.