Saturday, February 15, 2014
In Unions Their Is Strength
The news from Chattanooga - that workers declined to join the UAW at a Volkswagen plant - is really discouraging.
Volkswagen was very open to the workers joining a union, because it would allow them to set up a works council, like they do in Germany and everywhere else they build VWs. Basically, a works council allows blue and white collar workers at the plant to determine benefits, work hours, vacation policy and work conditions in a collaborative effort. This is common business practice in Germany, where it goes under the name neo-corporatism.
But then the GOP in Tennessee basically started threatening both VW and the workers. Basically, the "anti-tax party" was going to raise taxes on Volkswagen if they had a union represent their workers.
Again, you can see the real agenda here. The GOP didn't care that VW was eager to work with the UAW; the needs and wants of Volkswagen were immaterial.
What really mattered was that workers should not unionize. That trumped their antipathy to taxes and their supposed "pro-business" ideology. In fact, their desire to prevent unions would have extended to actively trying to hurt Chattanooga and its workers.
There is no other word for this than class warfare.
But it is also incredibly sad that workers gave in to these threats. Of course, being compared to Detroit was the kicker because you know what sort of people live in Detroit. And the reason automakers left Detroit was because they could exploit cheaper labor elsewhere. But VW wanted the union!
Jay Gould, titan and scumbag of he Gilded Age, famously said, "I can hire half the working class to kill the other half."
Today, the GOP used threats and intimidation to prevent workers from having a voice in their plant. This should forever cement their place as the party of the 1%. But just as the workers in Chattanooga only understood "Detroit" and its blackness and bleakness, so, too, will the average American's understanding of this dynamic be hopelessly muddied by race, relative privilege and "both sides do it."
We get, I suppose, the government we deserve.