US: UAW cites 1776 Constitution as Local 42 takes flight
“It is part of our Constitution – the right to association" - UAW secretary-treasurer Gary Casteel
America's powerful UAW union is citing the country's 1776 Constitution as the basis for establishing its Local 42 body in Tennessee, but is voicing fears the new grouping could come under political pressure.
The UAW says it 'absolutely thinks' politicians will try and block the formation of what the labour body refers to as a "German-style Works Council" in Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant in Tennessee.
The labour organisation was thwarted earlier this year in its attempts to form a traditional union, losing a vote at the Chattanooga factory by 44 votes, with the Detroit-based body referring to "tremendous pressure from outside" following the election.
Following that defeat the UAW announced it would form a Local 42 body at the Tennessee plant - recently subject to new SUV investment from Volkswagen - with the new organisation representing any interested employees who join as members with no employees being required to belong to the association.
"I absolutely think they [politicians]...will try to oppose this in some way," UAW secretary-treasurer, Gary Casteel, told just-auto from Detroit. "I believe they are having a difficult time because this is not a model they are used to opposing.
"They have never had to deal with this before. In the States, it has become a rule of life that an employer is not willingly going to let employees organise.
"It is part of our Constitution - the right to association."
Senator Bob Corker, has consistently opposed the UAW in Tennessee, noting after the union's decision to withdraw an appeal against February's formal vote to create a labour body their move was to distract attention from the plant decision.
"This 11th hour reversal by the UAW affirms what we have said all along -- that their objection was nothing more than a sideshow to draw attention away from their stinging loss in Chattanooga," said Corker.
"Many have felt the UAW never really wanted another election in the near term because they knew they would lose by an even larger margin."
Casteel insisted the objections were withdrawn to "end the controversy and put the focus where it belongs" - namely in obtaining economic incentives to grow Volkswagen in Chattanooga and the addition of a new product line.
Volkswagen in Chattanooga was not immediately available for comment.