The United Auto Workers union appears to be losing its zeal for unionizing the south. In February, workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant voted against unionization, another sign suggesting that private sector unions generally aren’t as attractive to workers as they used to be. The UAW responded by appealing to the National Labor Relations Board for a new vote. But only an hour before the NLRB hearing, the union decided to withdraw its appeal, as Reuters reports:
VW workers due to testify at the hearing were already at the courthouse in downtown Chattanooga when they heard the news, which left lawyers in the hearing room wondering how to proceed.The union did not explain why it waited until the 11th hour to drop the case, but UAW official Gary Casteel said the decision not to go ahead was made last week.
Now the original vote has been certified by the NLRB, and it’s unclear what drove the UAW’s decision, or what it will do next. Some labor leaders say it will allow the union to focus on other states and plants, and insist that the UAW hasn’t given up on the south. But the decision to pull out of a hearing after workers voted against unionization may seriously weaken the UAW’s perceived clout, and in turn compromise its other efforts. The reversal is so dramatic, in fact, that it raises questions about whether UAW leaders are sounding a wider retreat.