After establishing a plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Volkswagen needs to decide whether to take a position against or in favor of the union representatives. Taking into account the fact that Tennessee has a long tradition of being anti-union and Germany, where the company is from, has a positive experience in having unions to represent workers, the company is thought to be between a rock and a hard place. Most of the companies set up in the USA try to avoid supporting union-elections. However, given the situation, it is better for the Volkswagen Company to stay neutral in the process, allowing the union to have a union election and see whether there are more pro-union or anti-union workers and live with the state legislature decisions.
The reason why this decision is beneficial from an ethical point of view is that thus the company will be able to maintain a good relationship with both sides: United Auto Workers (UAW) and local Republican politicians. In any case, the Volkswagen Company can have advantages. If the attempt of UAW to unionize the workers of the plant is successful and receives most of the votes, they will monitor bargaining agreements, representing the fellow worker’s interests and helping increase productivity at the plant. As the south of the US is not prone to unite, there is a great change that the unions will be voted down. Though, if the vote faces resistance from the local government and conservatives, it will still benefit the company, as the senator will be supporting the company, which eventually will ensure economic growth in Tennessee.
Another reason why it is a more feasible option is because letting the workers choose whether they want to join the UAW or not, instead of nudging them to take certain actions, is considered to be fair. It is worth to point out that the plant should be first unionized through the UAW, in the light of facts that the American labor law does not allow companies to have their own work councils, if they are not represented by a union (Greenhouse, “VW and Its Workers Explore a Union at a Tennessee Plant.”). So, if the decision is in the hands of the workers the company will not be the one to blame for unexpected outcomes, as it would be the prevailing opinion of the employees, not of the company leaders’.
Though some may argue saying that the employees of the company might be influenced by lobbyists to vote against joining the UAW. However, we need to point out the fact that both sides are given equal chances to influence the workers and promote their views. Thus, the right to choose is given to the workers, and if they become influenced by certain opinions, it is their own choice. Saying that local government can interfere with the voting process, but people will accept joining the union if they want it to represent their interests.
Having said these, allowing the employees to decide whether they want to get involved into the union matters or not and live with the proposed state legislation is a better idea for several reasons, such as maintaining a good relationship with all workers, the union and the local government, as it is a fair way of identifying people’s needs. What is more, instead of the usual stance of anti-union that is mostly maintained by the companies in the US, taking a neutral stance is better for the company.
Greenhouse, Steven. “VW and Its Workers Explore a Union at a Tennessee Plant.” New York Times. 6 Sept. 2013. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.