How the UAW Lost Tennessee: Gaming U.S. Labor Law Failed to Overcome Worker Opposition

Foreign automakers located in the South, known in the industry as transplants, have long been a target of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union’s organizing strategy. For the UAW, unionizing transplants may be a matter of survival. Yet, the UAW has repeatedly failed to organize employees at factories owned by Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai Motor Co., Kia, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. When the UAW has faced opposition, it has resorted to intimidation, including public relation smear campaigns, protests, and recruiting progressive allies to pressure the company targeted for unionization. Through this “corporate campaign,” the union seeks to get the employer to sign what is known as a neutrality agreement. Such agreements almost always include a card check provision, which allows a workforce to be unionized without a secret ballot election. This deprives workers of the time to consider unionization privately. Labor law should protect that right more strongly.

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