Category Archives: unions

Suck It, Bob Corker & Bill Haslam

The UAW now has enough members at the Chattanooga VW plant to begin holding meetings with plant officials. Formal recognition of the UAW is expected to follow:

The company will reach out to the UAW in the near future to start the discussion regarding the opportunities available to them under the automaker’s community organization engagement policy, according to VW.

At the highest of three levels, at least 45 percent of the plant’s eligible workforce, Local 42 can meet biweekly with plant’s executive committee and human resources office. Also, the UAW can reserve and utilize on-site locations for meetings on nonwork time with staff and/or employees as reasonably needed.

In addition, groups can reserve and utilize space in the Conference Center for internal employee meetings on non-work time once per month, and post announcements and information in company-designated locations.

Gary Casteel, the UAW’s secretary-treasurer, said the local leadership is ready to move forward with additional conversations with the company.

“As a starting point, UAW Local 42 will take advantage of the company’s offer to establish biweekly meetings with Volkswagen Human Resources and the Volkswagen Chattanooga Executive Committee,” he said.

A right-wing anti-union group is whining about it, because that’s what they do.

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Filed under Tennessee, unions

Take That, Bob Corker: VW Chattanooga Has UAW AND SUV

Oh, my! Major Tennessee Republican FAIL: On Friday, the United Auto Workers established a local union to represent workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga.

Today Volkswagen announced the Chattanooga plant will manufacture VW’s new SUV line, a move expected to bring some 1,350 jobs to Tennessee.

Suck on that, Bob Corker.

(For more on this, read here, here, here and here.

[UPDATE]:

Trying to make lemonade out of this huge bag of lemons they’ve been handed, right-wingers are saying there’s no way that Volkswagen will ever recognize the new UAW local in Chattanooga. Really? I beg to differ:

First, the February vote was a narrow loss — 53 percent to 47 percent — and the result showed strong support among workers, despite heavy opposition from outside groups and Tennessee legislators.

Second, the UAW said it already had signed cards from a majority of the workers prior to the election, saying they favored representation.

I have no doubt in my mind that the UAW would have won that February election had it not been for outside interference from the likes of Sen. Bob Corker and right-wing cheap labor groups.

I suspect that unionization, like Obamacare, is one of those things people actually like once they’ve lived with it for a while. That’s when they realize it’s not the path to ruin/Fascism/Socialism/FEMA death camps they’ve been told it is by the Fox News crowd but, in fact, something that actually benefits people. And that’s why Republicans like Bob Corker and Bill Haslam have been shitting bricks over this VW plant for the past year.

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Filed under Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee, Tennessee politics, unions

When Being Anti-Union Is More Important Than Being Pro-Job

Welcome to your modern Tennessee Republican Party, folks. They talk a good game about getting the government out of the way of business but when that business wants to work with the UAW, all of that good talk gets chucked by the wayside:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Volkswagen warned Tennessee officials during difficult negotiations over incentives to expand the automaker’s Chattanooga plant that the company has already secured offers to build a new SUV elsewhere.

Volkswagen attorney Alex Leath in a Jan. 27 email to the state Department of Economic and Community Development said “non-deal” issues were causing delays in completing the deal in Tennessee, an allusion to a dispute over whether the United Auto Workers would represent workers at the plant.

That email, I repeat, was dated January 27. So when Sen. Bob “Budinsky” Corker opened his fat yap and let some stupid fall out, was he lying? Or just hopelessly wrong? Corker tried to sway the UAW vote by telling everyone if workers rejected the UAW, the plant would “reward” the state with an expansion:

“I’ve had conversations today and based on those am assured that should the workers vote against the UAW, Volkswagen will announce in the coming weeks that it will manufacture its new mid-size SUV here in Chattanooga.”

And again:

“If the UAW is voted down they’re going to come here immediately, within a two week period, and affirm they’re going to build a line here,” Corker told The Associated Press on the second of three days of voting.

All of this when, just two weeks prior, the state had been notified that “VW has already secured offers to build a new SUV elsewhere.” So, was Corker, lying? Or just stupid? It’s always so hard to tell.

Meanwhile that two-week period has long-since passed. So where’s the announcement, Senator?

Corker, by the way, still stands by his bald-faced lie unsubstantiated claim blatant fearmongering completely unfounded assertion. He’s obviously visited Frank Luntz’s Little Shop Of Wordtweaking, claiming the UAW is the bad guy here, not his rigid adherence to political ideology over jobs for Tennessee workers:

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker said today that the United Auto Workers’ withdrawal of its appeal to February’s union vote at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant opens the way to re-engage with the company to attract a potential expansion.

“It’s a shame the UAW slowed the momentum on our expansion conversations with Volkswagen, but now it’s time for VW, our state and our community to re-engage and move forward with bringing additional jobs to Chattanooga,” said Corker in a statement.

Ah yes, such a shame, Senator. One of the most hilarious bits in this whole farce is the part about how Corker claimed a pro-UAW vote would force VW to move its SUV manufacturing to Mexico — blissfully unaware, it seems, that VW’s Mexico plant is unionized. What a buffoon.

I’m just trying to understand why VW at this point would want to expand in Tennessee. No amount of incentives thrown their way can overcome that stench of merde wafting over political interference in VW’s plant operations.

This is what happens, Tennessee, when you elect Republicans. You get a lot of talk about creating jobs and small government and getting the government out of the way of business, but apparently the only thing they’re actually able to do is shut down Planned Parenthood clinics.

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Filed under Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee, Tennessee politics, unions

Next Time Keep Yer Yaps Shut, Tennessee Republicans

Uh-oh, looks like Sen. Bob Corker has embarrassed himself and maybe cost the entire South some jobs:

Reuters reports this morning that Volkswagen’s “top labor representative” has threatened to block any future expansion plans in the South, citing conservative interference in the United Auto Workers vote in Chattanooga.

Quoting an interview with a German newspaper, the news service reports Bernd Osterloh, head of VW’s works council, as saying he can imagine further expansion in the United States, but it probably won’t be in the South unless some sort of labor representation is established in the Chattanooga plant. Workers in Germany have representation on corporate boards, giving them a say in citing decisions.

Osterloh’s remarks seem to contradict statements by U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and others that Chattanooga would get another vehicle if workers rejected UAW representation. Osterloh describes such talk as conservative “interference.”

Hey, Senator Corker: Thanks for nothing, asshole.

Interfering in a manufacturing plant’s business, is that how this “small government” stuff works? Is that how Republicans show they’re “pro-business” and “pro jobs”?

Let’s be real, “small government” and “pro-business” are just Frank Luntz-crafted slogans used to dupe the rubes. As always, when reality collides with conservative ideology, it’s the ideology which wins. “Unions are bad, nobody wants ‘em, corporations hate ‘em, they’re anti-business and kill jobs, whasthatyasay?”

Man, everything you guys touch just turns to shit, doesn’t it?

What’s so funny is that when Corker said VW would really move their next expansion to Mexico if Chattanooga workers approved the UAW he forgot to mention that Mexico’s VW plant is union. Dumb and dumber.

I suppose this means Tennessee Republicans will go back to looking for jobs in ladies vaginas. Aw who am I kidding, they don’t care about jobs, they care about making themselves and their friends wealthier.

Major FAIL, Senator. Major FAIL.

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Filed under Bill Haslam, Sen. Bob Corker, Tennesseee, unions

So, What Is A Works Council, Anyway?

One thing which has been lost amid all of the conversation about the pending UAW vote at the VW plant in Chattanooga is that VW would implement a “works council” concept at the plant. The UAW would negotiate benefits and wages but the Works Council would negotiate specific workplace rules and job training.

So, what is a Works Council, anyway? This is something which is a big part of the German business culture. They are very common in Europe, but it’s an entirely new idea in the U.S. From the WaPo:

While the details of the arrangement would be ironed out after the election, works councils — which are elected by all workers in a factory, both blue and white collar, whether or not they belong to the union — usually help decide things like staffing schedules and working conditions, while the union bargains on wages and benefits. They have the right to review certain types of information about how the company is doing financially, which often means that they’re more sympathetic towards management’s desire to make cutbacks when times are tough. During the recession, for example, German works councils helped the company reduce hours across the board rather than laying people off, containing unemployment until the economy recovered.

This is an entirely new concept, and I think it will be very interesting to watch what happens. All of those scary billboards cropping up around Chattanooga saying a yes to the union vote will turn Chattanooga into Detroit seem pretty silly when one learns what exactly workers are voting for.

I find this interesting:

Works councils are also typically not allowed to call strikes, but they also don’t usually need to, because their authority is baked into their agreements with the company (and, in Europe, usually enforced by law). If the UAW wants to strike over wages and benefits, it’s still able to do so, but the likelihood of arriving at a mutually agreeable solution without one is much higher.

That’s why VW wants its plant to go union. According to VW’s global works council leader, Bernard Osterloh, the company even sees its culture of worker codetermination as a “competitive advantage.”

That politicians like Bob Corker, Gov. Haslam and the rest of the Tennessee Republican’ts would presume to tell VW not to do something it sees as giving itself a “competitive advantage” seems outrageous to me. I guess Republicans have no problem ditching their core principles when said principles become inconvenient.

Could American manufacturing see more Works Councils? I don’t see why not, especially if they work for both the company and its workers.

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Filed under Tennessee, unions

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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Filed under Tennessee, Tennessee politics, unions

Corker’s Anti-Union Stance Blows Up In His Face

[UPDATE]:

Good piece on this here (h/t, Crockett Policy Institute).

I thought this part was adorable:

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said Friday that some auto suppliers considering moving closer to Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant may balk if the United Auto Workers succeeds in unionizing the factory.

“[VW] wants more suppliers closer to them. We’ve worked really hard to do that. A lot of those suppliers are saying, ‘If the UAW comes into the plant, I don’t know if we’ll be as close as we would,”‘ the governor said.

Haslam, speaking to Times Free Press reporters and editors, said business recruitment to the state is being hindered by the UAW’s organizing efforts at the plant.

“I’ve had several folks recently say that if the UAW comes, that would dampen our enthusiasm for Tennessee,” he said. “They feel like, ‘We’re looking at Tennessee because it’s a right-to-work state.'”

Please name one, Governor. ONE. Also, to the news media which publishes this stuff? How come you never ask that fucking question in the first place?

Republicans love, love, love to fearmonger about these imaginary businesses which will be yanking their jobs if x, y, z happens (or doesn’t happen.) They love to talk about these people they know who said these things, but they rarely mention a name. Which makes me think mostly they’re just talking out of their ass.

————————————————

Are Tennessee’s foreign auto manufacturing plants unionizing? Looks like that may be happening:

A majority of the workers at Volkswagen’s Tennessee plant have signed cards signaling they want union representation, according to the United Auto Workers. But so far, the UAW isn’t rushing the global automaker to meet them at a negotiating table.

UAW president Bob King said he’s being patient and that he has “deep respect” for VW, which recognizes unions in all of its major plants, except for Chattanooga.

Sen. Bob Corker, who brought the VW plant to Chattanooga, is none-too pleased about it, either. In fact, he’s hopping mad:

“For management to invite the UAW in is almost beyond belief,” Corker said. “They will become the object of many business school studies — and I’m a little worried could become a laughingstock in many ways — if they inflict this wound.”

I think the laughingstock here is Corker. I’ve always thought it was part of the Republicans’ national strategy to bring foreign car manufacturers down here as a way of undermining the UAW. We’re certainly told ad-nauseum that it’s because we’re “right to work” that these auto manufacturers are locating south of the Mason-Dixon line as opposed to the Midwest or places like Detroit.

But VW is different from companies like Nissan and Toyota. Under German law, labor representatives have half the seats on Volkswagen’s supervisory board, and it is these folks who are raising concerns that Chattanooga is VW’s only non-unionized plant. With VW being pressured by its own board to deal with organized labor at its U.S. plant, it seems likely a deal will happen.

That’s bad news for Corker, the naive dufus who unleashed this on the South. If the Chattanooga plant goes union, it’s just a matter of time before the rest follow. German automakers like Daimler, which has an Alabama plant, and BMW, which has a facility in South Carolina, will face similar pressure from their boards. Employees at Nissan’s Smyrna plant have met with UAW representatives this year, as well, and it makes sense if the Germans go, the Japanese will follow.

I just love that if and when these auto plants unionize, it’s all going to be Corker’s fault.

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Filed under Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee, unions