TIPSHEET: Cornfield available to comment on new UAW effort to form union in South

The United Auto Workers may well overcome a largely union-free Southern automobile manufacturing industry with its drive to organize a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga using a method outside of the NLRB framework, says Dan Cornfield, a labor expert and professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University.

Dan Cornfield (Vanderbilt)

“This method occurs when the workers and union do not anticipate significant employer resistance to organizing the workplace,” Cornfield said.

The UAW is expected to announce today the formation of a local union. Participation by workers will be voluntary, but there will be no official recognition of the union until a majority of the employees at the plant have joined.

The UAW lost a representation election in February by a 712-626 vote, and the UAW filed – and later dropped – a challenge citing comments by Gov. Bill Haslam and Sen. Bob Corker which they claimed tainted the results.

“The earlier organizational drive that culminated in a union defeat in a representative election was significant in the unusual amount of organized government resistance to organizing the workplace,” Cornfield said.