Chattanooga Spared From Becoming the Next Detroit


May 16, 2014 1:00PM

DetroitFebruary’s Volkswagen Chattanooga union vote represented a historic action in Tennessee. Had workers swung the other way, the United Auto Workers would have obtained a foothold in the South, likely marching on to Alabama and South Carolina, unionizing automotive workers along the way (and like the proverbial Sherman, figuratively burning those places to the ground). Yet, a majority of the plant’s workers failed to see why paying a Detroit-based union would make them any better off, and thought better of shelling out dues to fund the union’s radical political agenda. Of course, the UAW didn’t back down after losing the election. It immediately filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, outlandishly arguing that it could force the government to silence duly elected officials from speaking out about the economic consequences of unionization. It also erroneously claimed that Tennessee’s governor threatened to withhold incentives if the plant unionized. While evidence points to the contrary, so what? Tennessee taxpayers have already funneled nearly $600 million into Volkswagen, and the company wanted its cake and to eat it, too. Tacitly supporting the UAW efforts, Volkswagen wanted a German-style works council and another $300 million in taxpayer handouts. Fortunately to date, they have neither. The recent news that UAW dropped its NLRB challenge is great for Tennessee and workers through the nation. It’s also great for free speech, because if the union had successfully argued its point, elected officials could be barred from merely speaking their minds when it comes to unions. Instead, freedom prevailed. Elected officials can continue to point out the truth when it comes to unions’ impact; Chattanooga workers can continue collecting their hard-earned paychecks without sending chunks of it to far-off middle men; and Tennessee can remain a thriving automotive hub instead of becoming the next bankrupt Detroit. -Justin Owen