As if anyone needed more evidence of the union movement’s demise, a United Auto Workers defeat Friday in Tennessee illustrated organized labor’s profound weakness in America. Employees at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga rejected UAW membership by a vote of 712-626. Consider these four blunt points:
1. If the UAW couldn’t win this one, what can they win? Volkswagen didn’t even oppose unionization. The German carmaker likes to sponsor cooperative worker-management councils at its factories, and formal UAW participation could have facilitated that arrangement. Still, a majority of employees said they didn’t want the UAW representing them. The defeat creates an enormous obstacle to labor’s ambition to organize at other foreign-owned auto plants in the South.