Ever since the majority of Volkswagen’s employees in Chattanooga rejected the United Auto Workers in February, Detroit-based UAW bosses have appeared more than a little desperate in their claims that the their loss was due to “outside influences.” Now, they seem more interested in having a “show trial” for the media than focusing on the real reasons for their loss.
This is aside from the fact that the UAW and Volkswagen in Chattanooga could agree to hold a second election at any time.
Never mind the hypocritical fact that UAW bosses themselves have turned to “outside influences” like the NAACP, as well as rappers and actors, to help it pander to employees at other Southern auto plants, Bob King and his cronies have been blaming “outside influences” (e.g. GOP politicians and others*) for having the temerity to oppose unionization of the Chattanooga plant, rather than accept that it was the back-door shenanigans of the UAW that cost them an election that was theirs to lose.
As its “evidence,” UAW bosses are now pointing to documents that somehow, in the eyes of the Detroit-based union, prove that GOP politicians in Tennessee and other “out-of-town” groups influenced the outcome of the Chattanooga vote.
In this regard, the UAW might have an argument if the documents the’re pointing to were somehow known to employees before the election.
The problem for the UAW, however, is that they only became public last week, nearly two months after the election they allegedly influenced.
The question the UAW cannot answer with a straight face is: How then could employees have even known about them, let alone have the documents influence their votes?
This, in addition to false accusations about an alleged overheard cell phone call in Atlanta’s airport, is only the latest example of where the UAW bosses have flaws in their logic and their claims.
However, the deeper one digs, the more incredible the UAW’s claims become.
The UAW’s Logical Fallacies
Outside Influences, Promises and Threats. Last summer, union officials who sit on Volkswagen’s Supervisory Board—which, among other decisions, determines where around the Volkswagen vehicles will be built—issued an ultimatum, stating:
“We will only agree to an expansion of the [Tennessee] site or any other model contract when it is clear how to proceed with the employees’ representatives in the United States.”
In June, Automotive News, in addition to reporting UAW boss’ Bob King gleeful use of German union bosses’ statement also reported that the German union might actually have the power to prevent expansion at the Chattanooga plant.
Employee representatives at VW also get a say in new products and investments through the company’s global works council, which includes representatives from all of its organized plants.
That may give labor leaders at VW enough power to follow through on the threat made by Wolf, the deputy chairman on the global works council.
“Investment decisions are made on a number of criteria,” IG Metall’s Mund told Automotive News last week. ”
Of course, it’s in our interest that the issue of representation is one of the criteria.” [Emphasis added.]
It was not until after several VW employees filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board did the German union bosses backtrack on their arguably-coercive statements, stating unionization would not have any bearing on the decision on “whether the company will decide to add the production of a new SUV in Tennessee or in Mexico.”
“Those two things have nothing to do with each other,” Osterloh said.
In January, going to extraordinary lengths to declare that (again, even though they may have the ability to veto expansion of the Chattanooga plant) the German union bosses are not agents of Volkswagen in Chattanooga and therefore not speaking for Volkswagen in Chattanooga, the NLRB dismissed the VW employees’ charges using the following rationale:
…neither Wolf nor Osterloh were agents of the Employer when they made the statements at issue. The Board has held that agency based on actual authority is created when an agent is given power to act on his principal’s behalf by the principal’s express or implied manifestation to him. In the instant cases, there is no evidence that the Employer in any way gave Wolf or Osterloh the authority to speak on its behalf.
Nor did either Wolf or Osterloh have apparent authority to speak on behalf of the Employer. The Board has recognized that “an agent can have ‘apparent authority’ to act when a principal’s manifestation . . . to a third party . . . supplies a reasonable basis for the latter to believe that the principal has authorized the alleged agent to do the acts in question.” The Board’s test for determining whether in individual is acting as the apparent agent of an employer is whether, under all of the circumstances, employees would reasonably believe that the individual was reflecting company policy and speaking and acting for management. [P. 10, emphasis added.]
Additionally, the NLRB chose to highlight the fact that Volkswagen management in Chattanooga had repeatedly stated that the decision to unionize or not had no bearing on the decision on whether or not a second production line. Of course, this disavowal did not occur until after the charges were filed at the NLRB, but the NLRB conveniently ignored that in its dismissal.
Why is this important?
Over the last several weeks, UAW bosses have claimed that they lost the vote because of statements made by GOP politicians—most notably, a statement made by U.S. Senator Bob Corker that was made following the first day of voting when a majority of votes, according to observers, had already been cast.
The problem with the UAW’s logic in blaming Corker (as well as other GOP politicians) lies in the NLRB’s dismissal of the VW employees’ earlier charges, as well as prior NLRB rulings where the NLRB has ruled that pro-union politicians’ outside influence was not enough to overturn an election.
Very simply, the UAW wants to have its cake and eat it too by ignoring some simple facts:
- Politicians are not agents of the employer.
- To give credence to politicians’ statements could create a precedence that the UAW may end up regretting the next time it asks a politician to help it in a campaign to unionize a company.
- In the case of Corker’s comments, Volkwagen’s then-CEO Frank Fischer almost immediately disavowed the Senator’s comments even before the polls opened on the second day of voting–which was during a snow storm.
This latter point is highly relevant because, in the above-referenced NLRB dismissal of VW employees’ charges, the NLRB stated:
Here, if Wolf’s June statement or Osterloh’s October statement indicated that future expansion of the Chattanooga facility might be conditioned on the employees’ representational status, such a message would be contrary to the Employer’s consistently repeated statements that the decision on unionization, and on forming a works council, was entirely up to its employees. Thus, employees would not reasonably believe that Wolf or Osterloh was reflecting the Employer’s policy or speaking and acting on behalf of the Employer.
More importantly, after these statements were made, the Employer clearly and effectively disavowed any message indicating that future expansion of the Chattanooga facility might be conditioned on the employees’ representational status. [P. 11, emphasis added.]
For the NLRB to now counter its own decision (as well as those of earlier cases involving Democrat lawmakers) would be problematic for both the UAW and the NLRB—especially since, once the UAW lost the February election, German union boss Berndt Osterloh returned to making coercive statements which have not been disavowed by the Volkswagen.
As importantly, it is rather ironic that the outcome of the Chattanooga election seems to have stymied the announcement for a second production line.
Could it be that the German union bosses are now fulfilling last year’s threat and withholding the decision on whether or not to expand the Chattanooga plant based on the majority of employees exercising their legal rights by having voted “no” to the UAW in February?
If so, one could reasonably conclude that the withholding of production due to exercising their rights to remain union-free would be retaliation and against the law, as both the UAW and the NLRB surely know. [Remember Boeing?]
The UAW’s Tin-Foil Conspiracy Theory. Last week, when a Tennessee news station broke a story about unearthed documents regarding the state’s alleged conditioning $300 million worth of tax incentives to the outcome of the NLRB election. The problem, again, for the UAW is its logic.
According to the news channel’s report:
Marked confidential, it offers Volkswagen incentives of some $300 million — in exchange for 1,350 full-time jobs at a new SUV facility.
“The incentives … are subject to works council discussions between the State of Tennessee and VW being concluded to the satisfaction of the State of Tennessee.”
While that “catch” may very well be the case, how did that affect employees’ votes?
Especially since it seems no one (including the employees who were the voters in the election) heard or knew about the “catch” until nearly six weeks after the election.
In fact, the only thing that the UAW can point its crooked finger to would be this statement by a state legislator:
“It has been widely reported that Volkswagen has promoted a campaign that has been unfair, unbalanced and, quite frankly, un-American in the traditions of American labor campaigns,” State Sen. Bo Watson, R-Chattanooga, said in a statement sent to the Free Press. “Should the workers choose to be represented by the United Auto Workers, then I believe additional incentives for expansion will have a very tough time passing the Tennessee Senate.”
So, is the UAW relying on the NLRB to overturn an election based on statements of “beliefs” by individuals—politicians, no less—despite the fact that, neither of them are the employer or agents of the employer, as well as alleged threats that VW may have been subject to but did not convey to its employees?
The UAW Can’t Handle The Truth
* Disclosure: After having written about the UAW’s plot to infiltrate the South since 2010, a friend asked me whether I would be willing to help the Volkswagen employees who were opposed to unionization by the UAW.
Without hesitation, I said yes and, over the course of approximately three weeks (for which we were paid by a non-profit worker center—similar to those worker centers that unions use today), my friend and I were able to help a team of VW employees discover the truth behind the UAW’s deception that had been foisted on the Chattanooga workforce—simply by providing the employees with the NLRB’s own document, The Basic Guide to the National Labor Relations Act and helping to explain the law’s ramifications.
Once both Volkswagen and the UAW ambushed the Chattanooga workforce with a “quickie” election, however, the UAW ended up losing an election it should have won, mainly through its back-door deals and its own actions.
Now, the Detroit-based UAW bosses don’t seem to want to face certain facts. Namely, the UAW wrote the playbook that was, ultimately, used against it and that is why it lost the election.
- The UAW’s “Sweetheart Deal.” As noted by pro-UAW writer Mike Elk, the UAW’s “Election Agreement” (aka neutrality agreement) revealed several things that the UAW had done behind VW employees’ backs.
First, the UAW had agreed to cost containment, which was counter to the implied promises of higher wages that UAW organizers were purportedly making inside the plant.
Second, if the company and union could not agree to a contract, employees’ voice would be removed from the process by the dispute being submitted to arbitration.
These two issues were in black and white, they were contrary to what the UAW organizers were leading employees to believe, and, most importantly, they were agreed to behind the employees’ backs.
- The UAW’s own conduct. Once the election was announced, employees were not allowed to ask questions in the captive audience the company held to announce the election, and the UAW was given nearly unfettered access to employees inside the plant. This, according to employees, made many feel uncomfortable, as though they were “on lock down.”
- The UAW’s Trojan Horse (or Bait & Switch): Over the last two years, the UAW has convinced VW management, German union bosses, as well as many of the Chattanooga employees that the only way a Works Council could be developed in Chattanooga is though a trade union. Not only is this incorrect (employees have the right to for their own independent Council, Association or even union without the UAW) but the law forbids the UAW to delegate its duties as “exclusive bargaining representative” to a Works Council—especially one consisting of bargaining unit and non-bargaining unit persons. [See more here.]
The union playbook played against the UAW. Everything that occurred in Chattanooga and that the UAW has complained about since losing the election is, quite literally, from the union movement’s own playbook.
- Worker centers helping employees exercise their legal rights? As UAW bosses surely know, pro-union worker centers have popped up all over the country. If the UAW supports workers centers helping workers exercise their legal rights for unions, why not those opposed to unions?
- Social-media in organizing campaigns? The UAW is an old pro at using a multitude of mediums to convey its pro-union message. Why is it so ‘outraged’ that others would do the same?
- Use of consultants? A quick glance at the financial records of the UAW reveals that the UAW (and most unions for that matter) pay consultants to help it in its campaigns. Why is the UAW so bothered when anti-UAW workers get the same help?
Instead of the Detroit-based UAW taking its loss in Chattanooga and moving on, UAW bosses are now becoming artisans in the manufacturing of bovine excrement.
Unfortunately for them, once the openness of a hearing commences, only then, will the UAW bosses realize how deep they’ll have stepped in it.
“Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.”
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)
Cross-posted on LaborUnionReport.com