The president of the United Auto Workers Union makes no secret of the fact that the union's future depends on its ability to expand.. workers at Chattanooga's Volkswagen plant are voting right now whether to join the union.
The U-A-W worked with General Motors to reopen the former Saturn plant at Spring Hill, and at least one industry watcher tells us, the union is not afraid to throw its weight around.
Vincent Vernuccio with the Mackinaw Center in Michigan has watched the relationship between the U-A-W and General Motors, since working in the Bush Administration's Department of Labor for years..
In a Skype interview with NewsChannel 9, he says, U-A-W members are having a strained relationship with each other, and some of that strain has shown up in negotiations with Detroit's automakers.
"You see a lot of that dichotomy within the UAW with the retirees versus the new hires," he says, "because the retirees have a huge say in the way the UAW operates and in the contract negotiations."
Vernuccio says, back in 2008 as G-M was gasping for air, the automaker needed the union's help to survive.
"We need concessions, we need your help," Vernuccio says the automaker was begging of the UAW back then. "But for the most part, the UAW negotiators just simply didn't believe them.. they thought they were bluffing, and that may be another reason that led those car companies down the road to bankruptcy."
He says over the years, the UAW has had a mission in its relationship with G-M, Ford and Chrysler.
"Essentially what they do is, they start attacking what they think is the weakest link of the Big 3 automakers and try to extract concessions from them," Vernuccio says, "and then go to the next one and say 'Chrysler or GM gave me 'X,' so you should give me 'X' too."
After unsuccessfully trying to organize at Honda, Toyota and Nissan, Vernuccio says, the possible reason why the U-A-W chose Volkswagen, is because most of Volkswagen's workers in Germany, already belong to a union, although a different type of union..
The V-W vote at the Chattanooga plant is being conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, and the results could be known shortly after the votes are counted.By Calvin Sneed