Workers at a Tennessee Volkswagen plant are facing threats of retaliation as they vote this week on whether to unionize, but the threats aren't coming from their employer. Instead, it's Republican politicians trying to combat union support even though Volkswagen is neutral in the vote.
In fact, Steven Greenhouse reports, "Volkswagen is eager to have a German-style works council at the Chattanooga plant." A works council is a form of workplace governance bringing together managers and workers and which would, in the United States, require a union. With the company taking a neutral-to-positive stance, though, Republican politicians are stepping in to intimidate and threaten as bosses often do in union representation votes:
State Senator Bo Watson, who represents a suburb of Chattanooga, warned on Monday that if VW’s workers voted to embrace the U.A.W., the Republican-controlled Legislature might vote against approving future incentives to help the plant expand.Gov. Bill Haslam and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) have also implied dire consequences for jobs in the area if workers unionize. As one VW worker puts it, "It’s essentially saying, 'If you unionize, it’s going to hurt your economy. Why? Because I’m going to make sure it does.' ... I hope people see it for the underhanded threat that it is."
“The members of the Tennessee Senate will not view unionization as in the best interest of Tennessee,” Mr. Watson said at a news conference. He added that a pro-U.A.W. vote would make it “exponentially more challenging” for the legislature to approve future subsidies.