Patterico's Pontifications


Michael Hiltzik on the Awful Intimidation by of the United Auto Workers

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:46 am

Michael Hiltzik:

Good for the United Auto Workers. The union has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over the flagrant interference in its recent election at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant. The workers voted narrowly against affiliating with the UAW.

Whether the UAW complaint will result in the NLRB calling a new election, or whether another election would lead to a UAW victory, is impossible to gauge. Erik Loomis of the University of Rhode Island and the Lawyers, Guns & Money blog thinks both are long shots, but agrees that the NLRB complaint is the right thing to do.

The details in the UAW filing are damning. The Tennessee Republicans’ conduct was nothing sort of shameful. As some 1,500 VW workers were preparing to vote, Gov. Bill Haslam, an assortment of GOP state regulators and Sen. Bob Corker staged a “coordinated and widely-publicized campaign” to interfere with the union representation vote, which under the law must take place “free of coercion, intimidation, threats, and interference.”

As it turns out, there has been deception and intimidation in Chattanooga . . . but you won’t be too shocked to learn that it is the union doing the deceiving and intimidating:

Volkswagen (VW) workers are claiming that the United Auto Workers (UAW) union used “misleading tactics” in its push to unionize a plant in right-to-work Tennessee.

UAW regional director Gary Casteel said on Sept. 12 that a majority of 2,500 workers at VW’s Chattanooga, Tenn. plant signed cards endorsing union organization. Workers came out less than two weeks later alleging that UAW organizers misled employees about what they were signing, according to a complaint filed to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Turns out that the cards they were signing trumpeted the fact that VW was seeking to establish a German-style “works council” — an organization comprising representatives of management and labor. Buried in the fine print: oh, yeah, and also we get to be your union.

The card check scheme also left employees vulnerable to intimidation. The complaint said that employees who changed their minds over the course of 18 months could only rescind their signature by personally visiting union officials.

“Despite making it so easy to sign union ‘cards’ at the workplace, UAW union officials are now demanding workers to go to the union office to exercise their right to reclaim their cards,” National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation president Mark Mix said in a statement. “This case underscores how card check unionization schemes make it ‘easy to check in, but impossible to check out.’”

Rep. Phil Roe (R., Tenn.) said that UAW’s tactics in his backyard highlight the need for the Secret Ballot Protection Act, legislation that he proposed over the summer to guarantee workers secret elections.

“Without secret ballots, workers are susceptible to intimidation, harassment, pressure and potentially threats to vote in a certain way,” Roe said in a statement. “Card check causes a high pressure and one-sided sales pitch.”

So, politicians fight to keep workers from being intimidated, and in the process get accused of intimidation. But UAW would never intimidate. No, sir. There’s no history of that at all.

If there’s one thing I know about the UAW, it’s that they always try to handle their business without any coercion, intimidation, or threats.

UAW, 1997, General Motors:

SPRING HILL, Tenn. March 7 — In a major embarrassment to United Auto Workers (UAW) union brass, Right to Work attorneys today announced their success in garnering an unfair labor practice complaint from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the UAW union after organized labor officials used illegal threats in an attempt to coerce and intimidate General Motors workers at the Saturn plant.

The labor board complaint, which names both the UAW International Union and Local 1853, results from a charge, filed by attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation on behalf of a class of Saturn workers who are victims of an ongoing smear and intimidation campaign launched by
Local 1853 officials
. For targeting workers who dared to dissent, UAW officials will face a trial before a federal labor judge on July 2.

1954, UAW, Kohler strike:

Six years of sporadic violence ensued between strikers and strike breakers. In time, the company would charge opponents with more than a thousand acts of vandalism. At one point, more than 300 people were arrested. Calls for a national boycott of Kohler products were vociferous and sometimes effective. Strikers were able to continue their often violent activities because of some $12 million provided by the UAW.

UAW, 2012, Nissan:

What does UAW bullying look like? In 2011, Mr. King threatened that he would label automakers that resisted his card check scheme as human rights violators. Thus, plants who attempt to protect the privacy of their workers through secret ballots face unwarranted attacks on their reputations for disregarding UAW’s Principles for Fair Union Elections.

When the bullies dishonestly whine about being bullied, it needs to be pointed out. Thanks to Dana for pointing this out and doing the research to do so.

16 Responses to “Michael Hiltzik on the Awful Intimidation by of the United Auto Workers”

  1. U


    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  2. Hiltzik is a disgusting person, regardless of his ideology. Even if he were a rightwinger, I’d find him no less cringe worthy, unreliable and philosophically corrupt.

    When I think of a good example of the way that left-leaning biases don’t mean a damn thing in terms of giving a human an added layer of humaneness, generosity and decency, I think of someone like Hiltzik. So I’d be quite surprised if the way he presents himself in public — via his columns — weren’t reflected in the way he is in private. Of course, I could be wrong, but I doubt it. IOW, I imagine his being guilty of plenty of flaky, two-faced, back-stabbing, cruddy type of behavior throughout his lifetime.

    That the LA Times keeps him on its pages year after year illustrates just how philosophically — if not financially — exhausted it has become.

    Mark (aea093)

  3. Chattanooga does not want to end up like Detroit. Who’d a thunk it?

    nk (dbc370)

  4. LAT reports, clear-thinking people deride.

    Colonel Haiku (5a3e75)

  5. Working people can’t afford union dues in the Obama economy. Union dues have come to be seen as optional family expenditures that are pretty far down on the list in the Obama economy. Many union members and potential union members have started to notice that they basically get nothing of value in return from being in a union or from paying dues in the Obama economy–and they are right.

    The union leadership love their power and perks and won’t go down without a fight, tho.

    elissa (ae220b)

  6. More on poor union folk who are innocent victims of intimidation:

    US attorney Zane Memeger (center of photo below) says the defendants resorted to strongarm style tactics of the 1940s and ’50s.

    “The defendants used goon squads which included union members and associates who committed assaults, arsons, and other violent and destructive acts to make their point emphatically clear. And that point to any contractor or builder was, you’d better hire local ironworker union members or you will pay a heavy price,” Memeger said today.

    Among the alleged criminal acts was the December 2012 torching of a Quaker Meetinghouse under construction in Chestnut Hill. Memeger says that act alone caused a half-million dollars in damage.

    Just one innocent prank, burning down a Quaker Meetinghouse, and all of a sudden your a CRIMINAL!

    Will there be no end to the official oppression of these bands of happy go-lucky union folk?

    Steve57 (a7ff60)

  7. I was busy this weekend so missed Hiltzik’s latest piece of buffoonery.

    The fact that Mr. Sock Puppet still writes for the Daily Dog Trainer while other, marginally more perceptive reporters and columnists have been let go is all you need to know about the continued descent of the Times down the toilet bowl of irrelevance.

    Skeptical Voter (12e67d)

  8. Well done. I’d like to read more from Dana. In fact, wouldn’t she a good guest blogger?

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  9. i think DRJ should be a guest blogger too!


    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  10. elissa @5, it’s actually worse than getting nothing. One of the reasons companies don’t mind paying union reps to do union work on the company dime is that way they coopt them. The union reps downplay any legitimate complaints the workers may have. Union bosses claim to look out for the worker, that’s their scam. They look out for themselves.

    That was my experience at my first, last, and only union job I will ever have. My first real job in HS was at a unionized grocery store chain. I had to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. When it comes to how many ways they were worse than worthless they were, I can’t count. I’ve had contempt for unions ever since.

    I had zero sympathy for all those Hostess workers who lost their jobs right before Christmas because they refused to believe Hostess would actually pull the plug on the whole thing. I forget which union it was that decided to go on strike since at least three were involved and the other two had agreed to contracts. Those other two were pleading with their “brothers and sisters” not to strike. But I still recall how the head of the striking union did so out out of pure ego. Because he could care less about the workers who would pay the price.

    And the workers who listened to their leadership? Suckers.

    Animal House union boss Otter explains to union member Flounder where he went wrong (NSFW).

    Steve57 (a7ff60)

  11. illiterate morbidly obese hyper-violent autoworker thugs what make crappy American cars don’t intimidate me so much as

    it’s just so disappointing how they’ve infested all the American car companies

    happyfeet (c60db2)

  12. The irony is that Nancy Kassebaum wrote The TEAM Act that would make the worker councils legal (they may be anyway) and it was vetoed by Clinton. This is more union chicanery.

    Mike K (cd7278)

  13. Turns out that the cards they were signing trumpeted the fact that VW was seeking to establish a German-style “works council”

    According to Richard Epstein workers councils are considered ‘company unions,’ organizations that are illegal under current US labor law.

    If the union was telling the workers that’s what was going to be set up, VW could make a claim against the UAW for interference. Of course VW has no intention of doing so but the maliciousness of the UAW is staggering.

    bastiches (5f8f25)

  14. My Uncle (retired) and cousins (retired) are UAW. Started at Buick and Fisher in Flint, MI.
    Would I buy a car they built?
    When my grandfather started building cars in 30’s he hoisted engines into cars with block and tackle. The workers needed the union back then so their needs could be packaged and organized.
    There were strikes, strikebreakers, scabs and my grandpa and uncle were part of a rough and tumble battle. They were beaten with clubs by strikebreakers and cops, they beat up scabs… the whole mess…

    Totally unnecessary today

    steveg (794291)

  15. Seriously – there are hundreds of such Union intimidation incidents, many downright scary:

    Federal Labor Board to Prosecute UAW Union for Bullying Nurses Seeking to Vote Out Unwanted Union
    **Toledo, OH (February 6, 2007)** – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a formal complaint and agreed to prosecute the United Auto Workers (UAW) union for a campaign of harassment and intimidation aimed at nurses seeking an election to vote the union out at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center.

    The complaint stems from unfair labor practice charges filed by St. Vincent nurse Amy Anderson in July 2006 with help from National Right to Work Foundation attorneys. Anderson’s charges detailed a bullying campaign by UAW union officials as she and others sought to collect signatures from their co-workers to throw the unwanted union out of their workplace.

    The NLRB complaint against the UAW union and its Local 12 lists numerous examples of union agents physically intimidating nurses, including “following, surrounding, and impeding access to employees.” The complaint also cites that in one instance a union official physically “struck a clipboard containing the petition” from one of the nurse’s hands.

    Laborite (291f30)

  16. This deceit amounts to burning bridges since they lost. I would think that they would need new cards if the NRLB does not grant them a do over. Management will be less likely to offer tacit approval.

    dunce (15d7dc)

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