Workers Say No to Union in the South

Auto workers' vote likely lowers the chances of successfully organizing southern workers.

By Carla Murphy Feb 17, 2014

Repercussions are still being felt from a closely watched vote this weekend where workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee rejected representation by the United Auto Workers union. Theories abound for why workers–even with company support for unionization–rejected the UAW, 712-626 late Friday evening. But one conclusion is certain. The vote deals a huge blow not just to the UAW but to any union hoping to further organize workers in the South. Historically the least unionized region of the country, the South has been, over the last 20 years, the favored destination over the upper Midwest, of foreign-owned carmakers. It is also the region, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a higher than average growth rate in temporary employment. Roughly 39 percent of all temp employment in the country is in the south.

African-Americans, according to this 2013 ProPublica investigation into temp work, are 11 percent of the overall workforce but more than 20 percent of temp workers. Latinos comprise 20 percent.

(h/t In These Times)