Yikes! A Burning Church — And Other Incentives to Unionize

Written by Chuck Gruenwald on February 22, 2014

Following the defeated attempt to unionize Volkswagen assembly plant workers in Tennessee, the higher-ups in the UAW, as well as pro-union politicians, bureaucrats and journalists were spreading the blame for this loss between “pro-business, anti-worker” Republicans and various anti-union “special interests.” While these folks have taken it upon themselves to feel cheated out of union representation for the VW employees, perhaps the pro-union types are failing to accept one possible explanation for the result of this election: the affected employees chose not to unionize.

Yes, this theory is a stretch, especially for supposedly wise, mind-reading politicians who claim to know what every American wants government and politicians to do. In fact, some claim to speak for the constituents whom they fail to meet with.

Just how could workers decline this golden opportunity for union representation?

The United States is littered with closed or demolished automotive assembly plants. Those plants were filled with UAW-represented employees. The UAW claims to fight for the jobs of its members. If so many assembly plants could close, and states such as California and New Jersey no longer have major automotive assembly operations, perhaps the VW employees questioned the effectiveness of the UAW at living up to preserving job security.

Despite claims that employees are discouraged from unionizing, it still happens – occasionally and voluntarily.

In the late eighties and early nineties, several attempts to unionize the former Wisconsin Central Railroad had failed, since employees felt as though there were open lines of communication throughout every level of management, optimism about the future, and a family-type feel within the company. Toward the end of the WC’s existence as an autonomous entity, a vote to unionize finally passed as a result of an uncertain future for the company and a change in leadership.

People do not need intimidation to unionize if there is a sincere need to do so. Unfortunately, there are high-profile examples from unions and politicians alike that raise questions about unions’ true agenda.

It is no secret that the Obama Administration is trying to help unions prop-up their sagging membership numbers. In fact, what bureaucrats and unionistas define as encouragement to unionize is perceived by potential members and outsiders as intimidation.

The thuggish influence of unions made itself known in a big way earlier this decade with the raid of the non-union Gibson Guitar factory and the violent backlash to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s plan to make union membership voluntary for most state employees and teachers.

Perhaps the most recent example of thuggish, yet childish union intimidation is the recent torching of a Quaker meeting house. These intimidation tactics not only generate bad publicity, but more important, average union members – some who had no choice but to accept involuntary representation – are not only forced to surrender part of their wages to perpetuate these types of activities, but they also risk being unjustly stereotyped as irrational and violent as well.

Perhaps tactics that involve violence and intimidation are a perverse variation of an entitlement mentality: the morally-challenged leaders perhaps feel entitled to not only represent workers, but to also force businesses and citizens to use only union labor – whether they want it or not. There are some companies that are trying to hold their own against thuggish unionistas.

When it comes to memorabilia, such as watches, photographs and cars, material objects are not the only things that are passed down from generation to generation.

While walking into a local Dominick’s Finer Foods shortly before this chain’s demise at the hands of parent company Safeway, I’d read a window sticker that I had previously ignored; this sticker had announced that Dominick’s employees were unionized. There is definitely nothing wrong with choosing union representation, especially if employees feel as though they have no other recourse within a company to resolve safety and other major issues. Under such circumstances, an attempt to try and find an outside voice for representation may be necessary. However, I realized that Dominick’s employees, much like the US-based automakers, had probably voted to unionize generations ago; the last employee to vote the union into their workplace could have either retired or died long before some of the present employees were born.

If the last of the employees to vote for union representation are either retired or deceased, is that vote for union representation still valid? Perhaps the best method to prevent this question from being asked is to require consistent, perhaps yearly re-certification elections.

If a union is living up to its commitment to represent its members, and the members are happy with their representation, then union leaders need not fear re-certification elections. However, if a union is a little more than a dues-collecting, “so good, you will be forced to join” cesspool of patronage and intimidation, then it’s obvious why the words “right-to-work” and “re-certification” are the equivalent of Holy Water to money-sucking unionistas.

From ethanol and dim light bulbs to small toilet tanks, there are many examples of government and special interests forcing bad, counterproductive ideas into the lives of Americans. Perhaps the VW election was an opportunity for a few people to push back against another unwelcome intrusion into their lives.

Image: Courtesy of: http://reveln.com/union-management-collaboration-what-creates-healthyfit-organizations-today/

Born in Chicago and raised in northwest suburban Cook County, Chuck Gruenwald developed an unfavorable opinion of machine politics quite early in life. In addition to cars, electronics, law enforcement, and politics, Chuck enjoys writing, and is also a horse racing fan. He has recently written op-eds for uncommonshow.com