CHATTANOOGA -- From Washington to Wolfsburg, the UAW's failed organizing drive made for exciting political theater. But on the grounds of the Volkswagen plant here, it was about as friendly as it gets.
A week before the balloting, Sean Moss, a 45-year-old quality inspector in the assembly shop, stood outside the plant, braving a midwinter chill to hand out anti-union leaflets. Next to him, a line worker handed out fliers in support of the UAW.
"I said to him, 'We should be doing this in July,'" Moss said. "It was so cold. And we just laughed about it."
The odd comity between supporters and opponents of the UAW reflected the way the election and its outcome came to be, born not out of protests or battles on the overpass, but out of a shared objective -- a voice for workers in improving their prospects at the factory -- and a deep disagreement about how to achieve that.
And while the political winds and rhetoric swayed the headlines over the past few weeks, the course of the organizing effort was determined largely by four pivotal decisions by VW executives, beginning nearly two years ago.
VW's distinctive labor relations practices make it difficult for others in the industry to draw broad lessons from the vote, experts say. But the way VW handled those four turning points illustrates the daunting challenge that the UAW will face as it tries to build bridges to workers and companies outside the Detroit 3.