September 29, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Chattanooga, TN – Membership in the “anti-union union” trying to counter the United Auto Workers at Volkswagen’s plant here has dropped below the share needed to qualify for meetings with management, the company said Sept. 22.
The American Council of Employees’ membership at the plant fell to less than 15% of the production workforce, while UAW Local 42 had 45%. ACE, formed after plant workers narrowly voted against the UAW in 2014, was funded by local business owners, and its registered agent is Maury Nicely, a lawyer who specializes in “union avoidance” and helped coordinate workers and politicians opposed to the UAW in 2014. “The business supporters win by keeping the UAW out,” said ACE cofounder Mike Burton, who no longer works at the plant. “You just don’t give money out of goodness of your heart.” He added that if the counter-union had sustained a significant share of the workers, it would have helped VW “put off any exclusive involvement with the UAW as long as possible.” Skilled maintenance workers at the plant formally voted to join Local 42 last year, but the company has refused to recognize them as a bargaining unit. Local 42 says it has signed up about 55% of the plant’s about 1,500 production workers. Read more