UAW will help Volkswagen, workers have a strong future


February 13, 2014
UAW will help Volkswagen, workers have a strong future

Outside groups should leave vote to those it affects

By Eric DeLacy

I’ve worked at the Chattanooga Volkswagen facility for three years. When it first opened, Volkswagen workers from Germany came to help us set up. They told us about how management at their facilities works closely with organized labor and sees the benefits of it — and how they feel respected and love their company, so much that many had been proud employees for 15-20 years.
I want to see that kind of future for myself at Volkswagen, and I think it’s possible. I’ve had jobs before, but I believe that Volkswagen is where I can really have a career and a future. But to get there, something will need to change.
The key to Volkswagen’s success internationally has been its work councils. Volkswagen listens to its employees and gives them a seat at the table in discussions that affect them. In Chattanooga, we’re not at that table.
I didn’t start out pro-union. But when Bob King, president of the UAW, spoke in Chattanooga in 2011, I listened to what he had to say. The UAW folks made it clear that they care about the economic well-being, health and safety of the workers they represent and their communities. The more I thought about it, the clearer it became that I supported unionizing. Unions give people a say in the decisions that matter and a voice that’s heard louder and stronger when we’re speaking together.
The UAW supports local communities by helping to maintain fair wages and ensuring that more folks are able to climb the ladder into the middle class. The union has helped thousands of workers fight for justice by uniting together. After the recession, the UAW collaborated with GM, Ford and Chrysler to turn those companies around, and now they are thriving. In contract negotiations, the UAW negotiated and won thousands of new jobs that will help people in Tennessee and other places.
I know that not everyone agrees with my position, and a lot of folks in the South are anti-union because that’s how we’re raised. But I’ve noticed that people who don’t support unionizing don’t have all the facts, and the information they are getting from outside groups is wrong.
Outside groups have poured money into Chattanooga to sway our votes, but they haven’t spent a day in our plant, and don’t know what it’s like to want to be empowered and have a voice to make an honest living. Grover Norquist — a conservative Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist helping to fund this outside campaign — doesn’t understand that when he packs up and moves on to the next fight, we’ll still be here. This is our community and our workplace — we should be making decisions about our future.
Outside groups should leave the vote to those it actually matters to: the workers and their families. We’re in the middle of the voting process now in Chattanooga, and I’ve made my decision. I’m voting yes — for UAW, and a strong future with Volkswagen.
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