The United Auto Workers Lose Again

You will all recall the article we featured yesterday from the Sunday Review Section of The New York Times which told of how Nissan frightened its black employees in Mississippi into thinking they would lose their jobs if they voted for the union, and the National Labor Relations Board is investigating whether Nissan  illegally threatened to close the plant if workers chose to unionize.

This editorial covering the matter appeared in this morning’s Wall Street Journal and we have decided to reprint it in its entirety in this blog as an illustration of the newspaper’s bias. It so deftly  reverses explanations of each of the Times reported facts  as to fully satisfy its businessmen readers. Which of the two articles do you believe?  Reread the earlier article and compare. Doesn’t the editorial below strike you as having been written to match, blow for blow, the Times piece?

We have found the Journal’s reporting  to be on the whole balanced and fair. And we have drawn on it heavily for this blog. Its columnists, Peggy Noonan and William Galston (we apologize for having gotten Mr Galston’s name wrong in the earlier edition of this blog), are always worth reading. Its coverage of cultural events, films, books, art shows, compare favorably to the Times. It is only when the “Editor” takes up his pen to write that our mind says “prend garde” for here it comes! . . . .You judge.

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD of The Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2017

The United Automobile Workers suffered another humiliation in the South late last week as workers at a Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, voted in a landslide to reject union representation.

The nearly 2-to-1 defeat wasn’t for lack of effort from the union, which spent years making the case to the workers in Canton. In 2011 then-president Bob King said that if the union failed to organize transnational auto makers like Nissan, “I don’t think there’s a long-term future for the UAW, I really don’t.” The union spent heavily and enlisted big-name supporters like Sen. Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez, and actor Danny Glover. It lost 2,244 to 1,307.

More than 80% of the workers at the Canton plant are black, and the UAW and its Democratic allies sought to exploit racial politics as much as economics. In an op-ed for the Guardian, Sen. Sanders claimed that union supporters were “connecting workers rights with civil rights,” while Nissan was out to “exploit human misery and insecurity, and turn them into high profits.” They claimed white supervisors favored white workers.

But the race-baiting [the pot calls the kettle black] fell flat in Canton, where for 14 years Nissan has provided solid blue-collar jobs, many of which require only a high-school education. One of the UAW’s supporters told the New York Times last week that, before Nissan came to town, locals were stuck working in McDonald’s for $7 an hour, so “this is the best thing that ever happened to them.”

The plant’s initial hires are now earning about $26 an hour, while newer recruits can earn up to $24. That’s far more than the $16.70 average hourly production wage in central Mississippi. Nissan also offers retirement benefits comparable to other U.S. auto makers and up to 37 days a year of paid time off, including vacation and holidays. For the past two years workers have received a $4,000 annual bonus.

The Canton auto workers are also well aware of how escalating union demands and stifling work rules suffocated the Big Three U.S. car makers in Detroit. An indictment unsealed a week before the Canton vote alleges that the UAW’s vice president teamed up with the top labor negotiator at Fiat-Chrysler to pilfer millions of dollars from a fund intended to train auto workers. That’s not a good look when you’re asking workers to hand over a chunk of their paychecks in union dues.

Trigger warning: Nissan didn’t shrink from explaining to workers that unionization could strain the plant’s global competitiveness. The UAW responded by accusing the company of threats and harassment, filing a ritual complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, which supervised the election. The NLRB could order a new election, but unions typically do worse the second time around.

The UAW’s problem isn’t unfair negotiating tactics. The reason the union hasn’t been able to organize workers in the South, and the reason its ranks have shrunk by more than 75% in 35 years, is because most workers don’t think a union has much to offer and will eventually put their jobs at risk. [The Times points to the far more plausible reason that black workers in the South have little or no experience with unionization.]

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