published Thursday, March 21st, 2013

VW sees benefits of employee union

The news that Volkswagen's corporate management is considering formation here of a German-style workers' council, or union, whose representatives would work with management on employee and productivity issues should be welcome by both VW employees and the city's and state's economic development advocates.

The traditional German approach to draw workers into close collaboration with management for their mutual benefit has made Germany the international standard for quality craftsmanship and economic and production prowess. Though Germany dropped behind booming China as the world's largest exporter a couple of years ago, it remains the world's second largest exporter. That ranking still puts it ahead of the United States — though its population is barely a fourth of the U.S. population, and just a tiny fraction of China's population.

Unfortunately, political and Chamber of Commerce leaders here, having failed in their two-year-long lobbying effort to persuade Volkswagen not to allow a union, are acting as if the global automotive giant is making a huge mistake and setting a bad precedent for Tennessee.

How blind these critics are.

Their lack of appreciation for a constructive worker-management bond is deeply disappointing and stunningly outmoded. It reflects not just an old-fashioned, close-minded, anti-union bias. It also suggests an entrenched, negative mindset that sees rank-and-file workers as akin to selfish, lazy, mindless drones who shouldn't be accorded a say in employee relations or ways to improve productivity.

The critics of fair treatment and demonstrated respect for workers further disapprove of VW's decision on the knee-jerk theory that it might repel other companies from locating in Tennessee. They fear the presence of an auto-workers union might somehow generate pressure for other employers to negotiate with workers over pay, benefits and potential production and quality improvements. That's clearly not on the horizon.

That mindset — an outdated product of the nation's early union battles to win basic workers' rights, and a latter-day era of union featherbedding when America was the economic kingpin in the post-World War II devastation of Europe and Japan — needs to be junked. Unionists who once saw union rules as a ticket to feather-bedding and limitless job protection know those days are long gone. In an increasingly competitive global economy, unions know — and employers should also know — that they must cooperate at a higher, more collaborative level to ensure success.

America's employers need all the help, motivation, ingenuity and loyalty they can get from their employees. Germany's age-old collaborative approach with employees should help attain those goals. It also should serve companies here as a transformative and more productive example for spurring employees' creativity as well as their productivity.

In any event, VW's worker council initiative could set no binding precedent for unions in Tennessee. It is certainly unlikely, for example, that Tennessee's Republican-controlled Legislature would entertain a proposal to revoke the state's so-called right-to-work law, which ensures that employees, in what few union shops are left, remain free to reject union membership.

The lower economic status of right-to-work states, however, should remind lawmakers and employers alike that right-to-work laws are no symbol of economic might for their broad middle-class. In most of the 24 Southern and Western states with such laws and a strong anti-union bias, wages, education, consumer spending and middle-class wealth are lower than in states without such laws.

If economic success is the measure, states with higher levels of wealth and education coincide with the presence of unions. If VW's willingness to test collaboration with a workers' council here leads to an improved economic and work environment for its employees, and higher productivity and earnings for the company, what's the problem? There's no reason for fair-minded critics to fear any of that.

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halfback1 said...

This is very encouraging - not the resistance of Chamber, but the possibility of a return to the working class getting their due as a critical component of a working society.

They have been crushed by a misguided anti-union drive from political hacks masquerading as new Conservatives or the Tea Party. Not saying greed and fool hardiness didn't live in the union halls of old, but, a healthy well paid working class is every bit as essential to vibrant economy as investors willing to take risks and dive into the entrepreneurial arena.

As a former small business owner, I assure you I never produced one widget beyond my personal needs without a place to sell it. Workers with jingle in their pockets buy the bulk of the world's widgets.

March 21, 2013 at 4:24 a.m.
joneses said...

It is simple. if Volkswagen goes Union I will not be buying a Volkswagen anymore. And I encourage everyone else to boycott any car made by the corrupt UAW union. All they do is add cost and rob more union dues from their members to pursue their liberal socialist agenda.

March 21, 2013 at 8:07 a.m.
joneses said...

What is happening is the Unions are asking the employees at Volkswagen to support gay marriage, gun control and other union causes the union supports by contributing the employees hard earned money to the liberal socialist dummycratic party of O'Bastard.

March 21, 2013 at 9:16 a.m.
chatt_man said...

VW sees benefits of employee union, really? I can see why VW is considering this, if they are. It worked out well for GM, just look at how well Detroit is doing...

March 21, 2013 at 11:04 a.m.
acerigger said...

joneses said...

"It is simple. if Volkswagen goes Union I will not be buying a Volkswagen anymore"

How many VW's have you bought,ever??

March 21, 2013 at 1:53 p.m.
joneses said...


March 21, 2013 at 4:46 p.m.
vwisqualitysure said...

joneses sorry to inform you that all vw's are union made they have been that way since 1949 I suggest you contact VW AG in Wolfsburg and see if you can get a refund. I HOPE hear my sarcasm.

March 21, 2013 at 5:40 p.m.
Easy123 said...

vwisqualitysure = 1

joneses = 0

March 21, 2013 at 7:33 p.m.
acerigger said...

LUV me some Beetles! Used to build 'em,heluvacar.

LUV my union too! LOL!((((((((((((Ironworker,by Gawd)))))))))))))))))))

March 21, 2013 at 9:54 p.m.
Chiron said...

I could not believe anyone could consider voting FOR unionization. First of all, joining a union is admitting that one does not have the skills and abilities to earn a living without the strong arm backing of a collective. Secondly, looking at what unions have done to Chrysler and GM, voting for a union would be like hoping to get back into the unemployment line. Thirdly, one need only to look at the association of labor unions with organized crime--we are known by the company we keep! If one studies the history of Chattanooga, one finds our city was once the 9th largest manufacturing city in the world--that was before the unions came in and strangled all the factories who went where? You've got it; OVERSEAS! Now, with VW committing to our city, Chattanooga has a chance to rise from its ashes.
Don't blow it people!

March 23, 2013 at 12:08 a.m.
fairmon said...

Read the first sentence. This is a smart move by VW although they may be surprised by the NLRB dictating more than what they are used to in Germany. Anyone that thinks the NLRB is anything other than a union support group is naive. Unions have evolved from good intentions and contributions to being like the government. Many high paid executives with job retention as their primary purpose using member money to further their personal agenda while blowing smoke all over members.

March 23, 2013 at 9:18 a.m.
joneses said...


If all volkswagens are union made than that means the Chattanooga plant is already Union which it is not because the socialist UAW is trying to make it union. Are you that stupid? The VW's i purchased for my company were made right here in Chattanooga which is a nonunion plant moron. If the employees let the socialist UAW in that plant I will not buy anymore VWs. You look foolish now! LOL!

March 23, 2013 at 9:47 a.m.
Easy123 said...


vwisqualitysure obviously wasn't referring to the plant in Chattanooga, moron. The VW plants in Germany and most of the other VW plants around Europe are unionized. Learn how to think critically before you speak.

I don't need to ask. I already know you are that stupid.

How long did it take you to come up with the "the VW's i purchased for my company were made right here in Chattanooga" line? You know full well that isn't true, unless you bought 3 Passat's. The Chattanooga plant only makes one type of VW. Hell, you're probably lying about owning a VW anyway!

You always look foolish. Today is no different. LOL!

For good measure, unions aren't socialist. Saying so makes you look even more like a dumbass. Is that even possible at this point?

March 23, 2013 at 10:42 a.m.
anticorp said...

joneses said,"All they do is add cost and rob more union dues from their members to pursue their liberal socialist agenda."

I would invite you think as opposed to being a Parrot. Germany ranks number 2 in global exports, ahead of the US and close behind China. They're in the top four nations for union participation. There are some revealing data here if you choose to up your game beyond being a Parrot:

Social Democracies like Germany, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland have cruised through this American Republican made Recession to the admiration of the world, not to mention their people rate higher in happiness, health and upward mobility. When you get into income inequality, gun & non gun violence and percent of imprisoned population it really gets embarrassing.

I think we could learn a thing or two from some of the more mature nations.

If I were to buy a German made car I wouldn't be nearly as concerned some disenfranchised employee would make a present of a lemon.

March 24, 2013 at 3:16 p.m.
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