The United Auto Workers distributed a list of “scab” workers to members at a plant in right to work Tennessee in an effort to intimidate non-union workers, according to one longtime GM employee.
UAW Local 1853 published a “Scab Report,” listing the names and work stations of more than 40 workers at the Spring Hill General Motors plant. The list has found its way into the plant, according to a photo obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
“The following individuals are NON-dues paying workers. They have chosen to STOP paying Union Dues and still reap the rewards of your negotiated benefits,” the sign says. “If you work near one of these people listed please explain the importance of Solidarity and the power of collective bargaining.”
One employee who requested anonymity for fear of retribution from the union said that harassment began soon after the report was released. Three different people approached him last week, two of whom were hostile.
“They put our names out there so people will pressure us,” the worker said. “One guy called me a scab outright. I don’t appreciate that. I was disgusted by it.”
Local union president Tim Stannard admitted to publishing the list. He denies that it was conceived to intimidate non-union members, saying that he was encouraging members to have candid talks with other workers about the benefits of the UAW.
“It says to talk to them, explain the importance of collective bargaining and solidarity. I’m not trying to intimidate anybody,” Stannard said. “We need to join together to stay strong and solid and we have people that are not in the union and that weakens us.”
The UAW has struggled to gain a foothold in right to work states where workers are given the freedom to opt out of the union. Workers at a Chattanooga, Tenn., Volkswagen plant rejected joining the UAW in February, despite support from management. The Spring Hill plant inherited a union when it was built in the 1980s and workers were brought down from Michigan to staff it.
Though workers have the ability to opt out, more than 99 percent have remained in the union. More than 1,400 workers pay dues and membership is expected to grow. GM announced that it will invest hundreds of millions of dollars to expand its SUV operations at Spring Hill, which is expected to create 1,700 to 1,800 new jobs, according to Stannard. He expects that nearly all of them will join the union in part because right to work has forced union officials to focus more on services than its counterparts in coercive union states.
“You got to pick your game up a little bit in a right to work state and offer services to members,” he said. “We try and be involved in the community and I think we are a strong union that tries to please our membership first.”
The worker who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon said that there is another side to the union. He was a dues paying member for three decades and came down to Tennessee about 20 years ago after working in Michigan. He said nepotism and the union’s defense of bad workers led to his disillusionment. The scab report is the last straw for him.
“I have had more trouble with the union than with management and after this I will never come back to the UAW,” he said.
He felt the need to speak out after witnessing the establishment of voluntary unions in Chattanooga and Alabama. The UAW has said it merely wants to give voluntary union supporters an option, but the worker sees it as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
“What they do behind the scenes is harass non-members, those who choose not to belong,” the worker said. “The workers [in Chattanooga] can look forward to seeing their names on a list just like this one.”
Glenn Taubmann, an attorney at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, echoed these sentiments. He said that the UAW’s history should serve as a warning sign for workers in right to work states.
“The UAW is forming so-called ‘voluntary’ locals, and says it has turned over a new leaf. But the fact that it publishes a ‘hit list’ against non-members in Spring Hill, Tenn., who won’t ‘volunteer’ for union membership shows its true colors: it is the same old Detroit-based UAW, rife with harassment and abuse for every independent-minded employee who disagrees with its dictates,” Taubmann said. “Independent-minded workers in Chattanooga should especially beware, as the UAW is attempting to climb into bed with Volkswagen and this same sort of harassment and abuse of nonmembers cannot be far behind.”