Just Say Nein

I don’t often link to unsigned editorials, but there’s an excellent piece today on NRO about VW’s Tennessee workers rejecting the UAW, despite the union pouring millions into the effort and VW management taking a neutral stance. I bring it up because “The Editors” make one fine and often overlooked point: Even if VW workers wanted to unionize, the UAW would be a bad choice. Read:

Worse, the UAW is corrupt, as dozens of headlines in recent years regarding fraud, embezzlement, and the like on the part of its officers document. And that corruption is one of the unacknowledged reasons why some managers do not mind doing business with the UAW. Consider the case of the UAW members who filed a complaint “that full-time reps log in hours of company-paid overtime not spent on the job, potentially increasing annual income by $50,000, while the company looks the other way. This is a longstanding practice at many Big Three plants. In return, according to members interviewed, reps soft-pedal grievances and health and safety complaints.” The popular narrative of organized labor — that unions are a necessary counterbalance to managements that care little or nothing about workers — rests on the assumption that unions such as the UAW are honest stewards of their members’ interests. They are no such thing. Even if VW workers wanted a union, it is far from obvious that getting into bed with the UAW would be the right course of action.

There’s a narrative that management despises workers and that unions protect them, but that narrative hasn’t been necessarily true for a long time.