I Hate It When Mom And Dad Fight

Oooh. Grab the popcorn, y’all. Tennessee’s Republican Daddy is having a big fight with Corporate Mama over this week’s UAW vote at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. And how scared are the Republicans? VERY:

On Monday, state Republican leaders accused Volkswagen of supporting the UAW and they threatened to withhold any tax incentives for future expansion of the three-year-old assembly plant in Chattanooga if workers vote to join the UAW.

“Should the workers at Volkswagen choose to be represented by the United Auto Workers, then I believe any additional incentives from the citizens of the State of Tennessee for expansion or otherwise will have a very tough time passing the Tennessee Senate,” State Sen. Bo Watson, R-Chattanooga, said in a statement sent to the Free Press.

A worker opposition group called Southern Momentum echoed that position in a statement.

“Further financial incentives — which are absolutely necessary for the expansion of the VW facility here in Chattanooga — simply will not exist if the UAW wins this election,” Maury Nicely, a Chattanooga labor lawyer representing Southern Momentum said.

Today’s threat comes less than 48 hours after Volkswagen said it favors a German-style works council with union representation.

“Outside political groups won’t divert us from the work at hand: innovating, creating jobs, growing, and producing great automobiles,” said Sebastian Patta, Volkswagen Chattanooga vice president of human resources.

The anti-union forces now are countering that VW isn’t neutral, it is pro-union.

Speaking of “outside political groups,” has anyone looked into who is paying Southern Momentum’s bills? All of those lawyers’ fees and anti-union billboards? I wouldn’t be shocked to find Americans For Prosperity or some similar conservative group financing this operation.

I find this absolutely hilarious. The company everyone embraced with hugs and kisses back in 2008 is now no longer welcome. Screw those thousands of jobs, amiright? We don’t want your kind around here.

Sen. Bob Corker wrote in 2008:

It’s difficult to find a sector of our state that will NOT be affected positively. Not only will the Chattanooga region be transformed by the tremendous economic impact and new job creation that will result from Volkswagen’s investment, our entire state will reap great benefits from suppliers and other supporting businesses this facility will attract.

Apparently allowing the workers to decide whether to have a collective voice in their workplace will somehow change all of that. Of course it’s not just Tennessee Republicans who are terrified of the implications of Volkswagen joining the UAW. It’s the entire Southern wing of the party (which, let’s face it, is basically the entire party). Would Nissan be far behind? Toyota up in Kentucky? The Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama? Kiss cheap labor — and a treasured talking point — goodbye.

So now Tennessee Republicans are threatening to end the incentives they claim lured VW to the state in the first place. But did they? From the memory hole:

Mr. Jacoby said the decision went well beyond the question of the state’s financial incentives and of state and local investments in infrastructure in an excellent competitive site. It hinged equally, he emphasized, on the city’s deep and durable commitment to the vision of renaissance and quality of life that resurrected Chattanooga from pollution and decline; to the community’s dedication to a sustainable future; to our efforts at nurturing our natural environment and enriching our cultural amenities; and to the sense of commitment and determination for a better future that Volkswagen’s leaders culled from their conversations with people who live and work here and who spoke optimistically of their values, culture, schools, housing, hospitals and quality of life.

VW found shared values

In all these ways, he said, Volkswagen found shared values and common goals — “something in our heart … in our gut,” in the city’s history, culture, environment and natural beauty — that reinforced the company’s decision to come to Chattanooga to build a car for the future, a car designed specifically for the American driver.

Of course, that’s likely just ribbon-cutting nice time talk we’re used to hearing at these press events. Regardless, I guess the honeymoon is over. We love having jobs, as long as they’re, y’know, the right kind of jobs. Cheap labor jobs. The kind that know their place and don’t cause trouble in the neighborhood. The ones that don’t hang around with the wrong sort of elements and start rabble-rousing up in Smyrna or down in Vance, Alabama.

Tennessee Republicans are right to be scared. As I reported in a recent Good News post, Tennessee ranks number one in the nation for the largest percentage increase in union membership. That no doubt reflects how far we had to go compared to other states, but it also reflects the fact that Tennessee’s workers realize the low wage, low benefit jobs where workers have no voice in how their plants are run might not be jobs worth having.

Crushing organized labor to maintain low wages and oppressive work conditions has been a long-cherished Republican value. If VW falls, would Nissan be far behind? Or any other manufacturing plant? Stay tuned.

(Some history on the issue here.)

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30 Comments

Filed under Tennessee, Tennessee politics, unions

30 responses to “I Hate It When Mom And Dad Fight

  1. Germany is proof positive that once you let in high-paying manufacturing jobs that respect workers’ dignity, it’s a slippery slope straight to Hitler.

  2. deep

    So wait…. VW itself is in favor of a union? Not the VW union council or something?

    Why would the Republicans be opposed to something the corporate masters are in favor of? (Stupid question, I know.)

    I drives me nuts that the Libertarian Bible “Atlas Shrugged” has a part in it where Hank Reardon actually supported his workers union because he demanded the best workers and the union provided them. Like, y’know what unions are supposed to do? Of course Ayn Rand was so inconsistent with her “Philosophy” I’m sure she wasn’t even aware she was conceding that unions are useful there.

  3. Joseph Stans

    This will be fun. But you have to Bealesplain if it is just TN that is looney tunes or if it is a characteristic of living below a certain latitude. I lived for a bit in Alabama and I did not notice crazy, just stupid. I have the feeling that TN conservatives will be suffering from some butt-hurt before long.

    • It is not the latitude or the longitude it is the political ideology. Deep asked “Why would the Republicans be opposed to something the corporate masters are in favor of?” and the answer is, for conservatives, ideology is everything. Remember:

      “Conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed.”

      • GregH

        It would be a shame for these asshats to chase the plant expansion and production line for the new SUV to Mexico. Of course, in their airtight little minds, NO JOBS is a better outcome than getting a nasty case of high quality, well-paid union jobs. I used to think that conservative, Tea Party ideology just made voters support things that ran 100% counter to their real economic and social interests. Now I see it can do the same for politicians. BTW, Talibama is just as crazy, if not crazier. Gov. Bentley just signed an agreement to explore the possibility of open pit tar sands mining in north Alabama. I guess the moonscape that is northern Alberta tar sands country is such a tourist Mecca.

      • Don’t you need a lot of water for open tar pit mining? Where are they going to get the water??

  4. this is unbelievable ! Oh, gawd ! ! please slap me.

  5. You have to excuse them. They thought that they were getting into bed with the right kind of Chermans; y’know, ze vunz who know how to deal viss dissension! Now they find out that these guys are human and it just inflames their little lizardbrainz!!

    What is really bizarre is that Jimbo or one of Southern Beale’s other trollibertardlicans hasn’t show up yet.

    • Jim in Memphis

      I know you wait with baited breath for all of my posts DC, but I had a lot of work today and didn’t have time before now to comment. Perhaps Republicans can see the potential future of Chattanooga or all of TN following the death spiral of Detroit when more union jobs are encouraged. You can look to Memphis to see what unions have managed to do to a couple of local companies. Wonder Bread closed up shop and Kellog’s has locked out the union workers at their Memphis facility. I guess those workers get to see the benefits of Obamacare and not needing a job anymore so maybe those companies did the workers a favor?

      I do wonder how it will work at the VW plant. Being a right to work state, I am sure the union will be happy to work alongside anyone who doesn’t want to join up and pay dues right?

      But I do agree that if VW wants to have a union they should have a union. It is their company and they should be free to run it how they want. This brings out the problems with trying to show favoritism with government tax grants to certain companies to lure them here. TN would be better off if they stopped such programs and instead just cut overall business taxes across the board. Then there would be nothing to negotiate and all businesses would have a reason to look at TN as a potential location.

      • Being a right to work state, I am sure the union will be happy to work alongside anyone who doesn’t want to join up and pay dues right?

        You mean those people who receive the benefits of the dues-paying union members without paying for them? I’d think a good conservative such as yourself would recognize a freeloader when you saw one.

      • Jim in Memphis

        Well if someone was smart they would not accept the “benefits” the union negotiated and negotiate on their own. Just by not having to pay union dues you could afford to take the job for a little less pay which I am sure most companies would be happy to accept.

      • That is ridiculously ignorant of reality.

      • Death spiral of Detroit? You’re serious? You’re not kidding?

        Good Lord!

        You know, Toyota learned from Detroit. That’s where a lot of American automobiles were built. Cars were more or less perfected in the 1960s. Ford has been building motors and vehicles in Canada for some time. But I’m pretty sure that all or most of the innovation has originated in Detroit. You’re about as patriotic as Mitt Romney.

        Why don’t you just saunter off and buy a Bugatti? How about a Porsche or Lamborghini?

        Unions were what made this country strong! What do you favor? Collusion among capitalists?

      • Jim in Memphis

        My wife taught for a year in public school and she smartly did not join the union. I have never worked for a company that had a union, but I can’t see why I would ever want to join one. If you are an asset to a company they will pay you well to keep you. Work hard and show how you bring something to your employer that they need and want to keep. You don’t need to pay for a union to accomplish that. In fact, the union is most likely to keep you from earning more since you would not be allowed to be paid more than workers that do not perform as well as you. You would be stuck on the union wage scale. That is what leads to flat across the board pay for teachers regardless of their ability to teach or the difficulty of their subject. My wife was paid much more than the “standard” wage when she taught at private schools because she was a science teacher that was much harder to find. No union meant she was able to negotiate her own salary independent of what the other teachers made.

        I remember my first job out of college at a chemical manufacturer. Luckily we did not have a union there so if something needed to get done you just did it. No waiting for the union forklift driver to move something, I could just get the forklift myself and do it (yes I was a certified forklift driver). I do know some engineers that worked for union plants and they hate it. Trying to get small things done is next to impossible since you have to get the union certified worker to do it. All hell breaks loose if a manager tries to just do something himself or if he asks the wrong union employee to do it.

        If VW was so concerned about providing good wages and benefits to their employees then why don’t they just provide them? Why charge the employee union dues to get those good wages and benefits?

      • Well, right now I’m working as a non-union musician. The only thing standing between myself and poverty is pure merit and work ethic!

  6. Meanwhile, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke posts this on FB: “No matter which way the VW vote goes, I will work to bring a 2nd line to the plant, creating thousands of jobs & expanding #cha’s middle class”

  7. Pingback: So, What Is A Works Council, Anyway? | Southern Beale

  8. Watching this with great interest. As a native of the “Heart of Dixie” I’m hoping Airbus does this in South Alabama. Am I a terrible person for enjoying it when the Marxists troll the Capitalists? That “Competitive Advantage” blade cuts both ways huh?

  9. “If VW was so concerned about providing good wages and benefits to their employees then why don’t they just provide them? Why charge the employee union dues to get those good wages and benefits?” Jim in Memphis.

    Perhaps VW has discovered there is value in having an independent workers council in their factories.

  10. “I know you wait with baited breath for all of my posts DC, but I had a lot of work today and didn’t have time before now to comment. Perhaps Republicans can see the potential future of Chattanooga or all of TN following the death spiral of Detroit when more union jobs are encouraged.”

    Jim, you stupid, arrogant clown. Unions are responsible for EVERY fucking benefit that the working man has. That you fail to understand that is entirely unsurprising, but no less a cause for someone to point out what a complete idiot you are.

    BTW, it’s “bated”, as in “held”. You’re welcome.

    ““If VW was so concerned about providing good wages and benefits to their employees then why don’t they just provide them? Why charge the employee union dues to get those good wages and benefits?”

    It’s the contract, stupid. Employees at will can take alla that nice cash and benefits and then fuck off until they get fired and you have to replace them.
    The union, believe it or not, actually requires their rank and file to do their jobs. I know you prolly don’t believe that because it doesn’t comport with your liebertarian fantasies, but that’s your problem, not ours.

    • Jim in Memphis

      “It’s the contract, stupid. Employees at will can take alla that nice cash and benefits and then fuck off until they get fired and you have to replace them. The union, believe it or not, actually requires their rank and file to do their jobs.”

      That makes no sense at all. You don’t think management would require someone to actually do their job if they are not a union member? I bet a non working person would be fired much faster if he was not a member of a union. Unions typically make it harder to get rid of bad employees not easier. I would like to see a report where a union argued to management that a union member needed to be fired for not doing their job. I will be absolutely stunned if you can find such a thing.

      Thanks for the vocabulary/spelling lesson.

      • Fortunately, for you, Jimbo–and the rest of the Teabaggist Indignorati that sometimes infest the threads here–my hand is wrapped up in a lot of gauze and tape after having something removed from it yesterday by a nice bunch of doctors at that socialist VA Medical Center in Syracuse. Because of the limited freedom of movement and some pain in that hand, I won’t be bothering with completely deconstructing your Randian talking points.

        Actually, I did, but then decided that Southern Beale deserves a less acrimonious thread than what my reply would have made it into.

        Suffice to say that your grasp of history is woefully weak. You have not a fucking clue about what goes on outside your little sphere of Randian paradise. Moron.

        And, Jimbo, but this IS less acrimonious than the original.

      • Jim in Memphis

        I take all that is to say you have never heard of a union pressing for one of their members to be fired either?

  11. “I take all that is to say you have never heard of a union pressing for one of their members to be fired either?”

    Prolly about as often as major corporations have clamored for their felonious board members to be indicted, tried and convicted and then offered to return the ill gotten gains of whatever criminal transaction that chairman was involved in when indicted.

    Unions have faults, Jimbo, lots of them. The difference is that I don’t have to join a union to get a job. After all, there are MILLIONS of non-union jobs, far more in fact than are unionized.

    Most of the non-union companies base their pay and benefits packages on whatever they are forced to pay by market conditions (i.e. labor markets in heavily unionized areas or industrries–decent wages/benefits and jackshit pretty much anywhere there aren’t unions and the workers can be pitted against one another in the race to the bottom)–or they hustle to find a nice right to work state or foreign country where they can pay a few people a lot of money to work everyone else like slaves.

    You should go to some libertarian paradise like Somalia where you can run your company any way you like, for as long as the workers or some local warlord can refrain from killing you to take what’s yours (or, in most cases, not yours). I’m sure that you’d be happy–oh, btw, learn to pray facing east,

    • Jim in Memphis

      I thought Muslims prayed facing Mecca. If I were in Somalia, I would need to face more North/Northwest. I think you were aiming to get me killed by praying the wrong direction DC. I am not feeling the love from you man.

      You still haven’t backed up your claim that VW needs a union in order to offer their employees higher wages and better benefits. As typical, your responses wonder off into unrelated topics. Your claim was that the union was needed to keep people from getting hired and not performing their job. I don’t see that connection and you have not shown anything to prove that statement.

      I do agree with you that you don’t have to join a union to get a job…unless of course the job is at a union shop. The union bosses typically don’t take kindly to people wanting to earn their job on their own merits without joining the union. I am sure the VW union, if voted in at Chattanooga, will be different and happy to work side by side with those that decide not to participate in the union.

  12. “I do agree with you that you don’t have to join a union to get a job…unless of course the job is at a union shop. The union bosses typically don’t take kindly to people wanting to earn their job on their own merits without joining the union. I am sure the VW union, if voted in at Chattanooga, will be different and happy to work side by side with those that decide not to participate in the union.”

    I WAS in a union, dumbass, for about eight years. You’re like the cath-o-lick priest giving marriage counseling to someone. You don’t have any fucking idea what you’re talking about.

    I worked at Verizon–a company with, at the time, 90K union members; 90K “managers” and about 30K non-bargained associates. I never had to join the union–although I would have had to pay their extortionate dues of about 1.5 % of my wages. Non-bargained employees received the same pay and benefits and were subject to the same work rules as union employees. A guy like you would have REALLY liked that you could keep working while the union was on strike and be high fivin’ the managers while you all laughed at the poor schlubs manning picket lines in whatever sort of shitty weather might be happening.

    Because of union negotiations/contracts. I enjoyed a terrific healthcare plan with very small co-pays for everything except major medical–no co-pays for that. I received a good wage and participated in a 401k that matched my contribtution at almost 50% of the first 6% of my base pay. I also had a non-contributory* company retirement package. I worked in a clean, relatively comfortable, secure and safe environment. I was not harassed (usually) by anyone that I worked with or for. All of my benefits were won by union negotiators; Verizon gave us fuckall without a fight. Nothing that was in my benefits package was gained without serious arm twisting and a guarantee from the union that they would provide the labor necessary to ensure that they company achieved its goals for customer service, telecommunications/internet infrastructure maintenance and construction and all of the other vital functions performed in their business.

    People like you, libertarian, “I got mine, fuck you”, takers, were certainly at the company–some of them IN the union–a fuckton of them in non-bargained associate positions and management. Thieving fucks. People like you disgust me, you smug piece-of-shit.

    * In the sense that it didn’t show up as a “deduction” from my base pay. The bean counters certainly factored the expense into any preparations made for contract talks.

    • Jim in Memphis

      What does any of that have to do with VW and their desire to offer their employees good wages and benefits? If the employer is already saying it is company policy to pay good wages then what is the union going to negotiate? What will the union do to earn the union dues being confiscated from the employees?

      No I never have worked at a union facility. But, I did feel that I was justly compensated for my work. My job offered all the same benefits you mentioned above except for the non contributory retirement package (I assume this was a pension of some sort?) Non of these benefits were earned by union negotiations. The company recognized that they needed somewhat skilled people to run the chemical plant and that those people were worth the money and benefits to keep them there. Several of the hourly plant operators had been with the company for 20 plus years. They never saw the need to strike.