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Union Intimidation Continues at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga Plant

Unions like to claim that management frequently intimidates workers against organizing. The reality, in today’s world, is that management virtually always has a hostile NLRB breathing down its neck at the slightest sign of any technical violation, whereas union intimidation and harassment (which is also prohibited by law) goes largely ignored by the regulatory authorities. A perfect case in point is the plight of workers at the new Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, who recently overwhelmingly voted to reject unionization despite illegal union harassment.

The head of VW’s union in Germany is at it again, threatening both to refuse further expansion in the entire South and also to block production of an additional VW model at the Chattanooga plant.

These statements, made by a person who sits on VW’s board, are just as patently illegal as would be equivalent statements made by management threatening loss of jobs if unionization occurred:

In the United States, private-sector employees have the right to “self-organization,” to “form” or to “join” unions. As importantly, they also have the “right to refrain” from doing so.

These are rights that have been enshrined in Section Seven of the National Labor Relations Act since 1935, which states:

Sec. 7. [§ 157.] Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form,join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, and shall also have the right to refrain from any or all of such activities except to the extent that such right may be affected by an agreement requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment as authorized in section 8(a)(3) [section 158(a)(3) of this title]. [Emphasis added.]

While it appears that Mr. Osterloh is either naive about U.S. labor law, or is purposefully and arrogantly ignoring it, for the German union boss to issue such an ultimatum once again can and should be construed as either retaliation for employees exercising their rights under federal law by rejecting the UAW, or threatening them in the event that there may be another election in the future.

In either case, it is wrong and, since the German union has the ability to cause economic harm to U.S. workers, it is also very likely illegal.

I think we can say with 110% certainty that if management had made these exact statements threatening workers if they organized, Obama himself would condemn them in the media and the NLRB would be enthusiastically pursuing all appropriate remedies now. When pro-union forces do the same in reverse, we can say with nearly as much certainty that we can expect crickets instead.

 

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