UAW Race Baits in Mississippi Union Drive

John Ransom
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Posted: Jun 27, 2012 12:01 AM

As more and more localities declare their independence from budget-destroying unions, the United Auto Workers is reaching into its bag of liberal magic tricks to help breakup non-union plants in the Deep South. It’s the last gasp of the UAW that knows it must perish if it is not successful in breaking into non-union shops operating in the U.S., such as foreign automakers Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen.

Not surprisingly, given the desperate times for unions, the UAW is relying on an appeal to racism in the south- one of the only tricks left in the liberal bag- in order to exploit African-American workers at the Nissan plant in Canton, MS.

“After months of speculation about where the United Auto Workers was going to focus its do-or-die Southern campaign to organize workers,” writes Facing South, “the giant 3,000-worker Nissan plant in Canton, Miss., has emerged as Battleground No. 1.”         

Facing South, a liberal newsletter, produced by the progressive stink tank, The Institute for Southern Studies, says that the UAW is focusing on Nissan’s Canton plant because they estimate that the plant’s racial makeup is 80 percent African-American, thus more easily exploitable.

“It was here that some of the bloodiest battles of the civil rights movement were fought,” reports Facing South. “It is here where the idea of a social movement based on social justice at the workplace can find fertile ground, UAW leaders believe.”

Gee and I thought the civil rights movement was about securing the same rights for black citizen that everyone enjoyed regardless of skin color.

It’s nice to see that the UAW readily admits that, at least for them, the civil right movement is about exploiting the color of someone’s skin in order to bolster union coffers. I’m supposing the UAW thinks that blacks can’t add or subtract the same way that whites do.  

Because, as the UAW cynically admits, previous attempts at unionizing Nissan auto plants that were 80 percent white failed.

They failed because Nissan told the workers that they’re jobs depended on remaining competitive with other automakers, and unionization would make it much harder for the company to compete in a world where manufacturing capacity is a commodity business: In the end, the low cost producer wins; hence the bankruptcies and bailouts at Chrysler and General Motors how can’t compete against non-union shops.

"Bringing a union into Smyrna could result in making Smyna not competitive,” Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn told workers at the Smyrna plant according to Facing South, “which is not in your best interest or Nissan's."

Exhibit number one is from the Detroit News, which in an editorial printed yesterday, blamed the UAW for the estimated $20 billion in taxpayer losses in the auto bailout. The actual losses will likely be much greater.

“None of these losses were necessary to keep General Motors and Chrysler in business,” writes the Detroit News. “The entire net cost of the bailout came from subsidizing the United Auto Workers' pay and benefits.” For example, in the $95 billion GM bankruptcy, $50 billion of it was benefit liabilities to UAW workers.

Exhibit number two comes from declining union membership for the UAW.

The head of the union, Bob King, has admitted that declining union membership rolls means that if the UAW doesn't "organize these transnationals [foreign auto manufacturers], I don't think there's a long-term future for the UAW — I really don't."

That’s correct. Because unless the UAW can figure out how to increase labor costs across the entire industry, foreign manufacturers will continue to beat American manufacturers in the number one cost for cars: labor. Labor costs, including benefits, put current per-hour employee cost for U.S. automakers [at] around 50 percent higher than the costs for their foreign counterparts,” according to NPR.          
As I reported in March of 2011, the UAW’s honcho, King, gave foreign automakers including BMW, Volkswagen AG, Toyota and Nissan an offer they can't refuse: Unionize their workers or else he'll single out one automaker and put the screws to them with a boycott. Never mind that the boycott will hurt workers, consumers and the US economy.

Last year, sources close to one foreign car manufacturer told me that they thought the target would be Toyota. But that was before a tsunami set back Japanese auto manufacturing. In January, the UAW announced they would target Volkswagen. German automakers, they felt, were likely a better bet because they thought that German unions were willing to back the UAW.

“This will be the biggest campaign ever undertaken. It will involve hundreds of dealerships,” said Dennis Williams, UAW Secretary Treasurer, adding the union will ask for help from its retirees, community groups and other unions to help with the campaign, said the Royal Oak Tribune (MI).

“We will do whatever it takes,” said Williams.

However, the support of union workers in other countries, once considered a key to success, has failed to materialize, probably because world economic conditions have foreign workers more worried about their jobs than even Americans.

"Of course, we will support the UAW; we've said that all along," said Bernd Osterloh, a German union chief told the Chicago Tribune. "But there's one thing we cannot do. We can't take workers at VW Chattanooga by the hand when it comes to voting (on UAW representation). One has to be in favor if one wants union representation."

And with that sterling stab in the back, the boycott strategy has collapsed with a chorus of loudly ringing “no comments” from the UAW’s King…And by that I mean Bob King, UAW president, not Obama.

But thank God the UAW still has racism.

Because as a union, they are all out of magic tricks.       


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