Tag Archives: 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.

8 Comments

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.

13 Comments

Filed under Tennessee, 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.

11 Comments

Filed under Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee, unions

The Question That Finally Is Asked

Finally someone (cough*cough*HIPPIE AT NPR*cough*cough) asks the question that no one has bothered to address during this whole Michigan right-to-work debacle. Which is, why does anyone think there’s a connection between “right-to-work” and employment? Why would anyone think that, when all you have to do is look at the unemployment figures from RTW states? Via ThinkProgress:

Pressed by Marketplace Morning Report host Jeremy Hobson to explain what proof Snyder had that Michigan would see a job boom as a result of the law, the Governor cited neighboring Indiana’s recent job numbers as his only evidence:

SNYDER: This is about more and better jobs coming to Michigan. If you look at Indiana, they did similar legislation in February. And literally, thousands of new jobs are coming to Indiana where this was a major consideration in companies’ decision to move to that state.

HOBSON: Are you saying then that companies decided to go to Indiana, for example, because there’s less union membership in Indiana?

SNYDER: No, and I don’t want to speak for the companies but it is very clear that companies are looking at Indiana that previously did not.

[...]

HOBSON: Well, make that connection though. You’re saying that, by not requiring workers to pay union dues, that therefore companies are going to be more attracted to the state. Why would that be?

SNYDER: Well, that’s a question for the companies but there is a strong sense, and companies do look at that. That’s something we’ve suffered here.

[...]

HOBSON: Union membership has fallen dramatically in Michigan and across the country and it’s not as though that has translated into some boom in employment. I see the point you’re making, but it hasn’t been borne out in the evidence, has it?

SNYDER: Well, it’s been borne out in the Indiana case.

Tennessee has been a right-to-work state since forever, and our unemployment rate has consistently been higher than the national average. In October, we saw a modest decrease to 8.2%, but that was still higher than the national average of 7.9%. Furthermore, many Tennessee counties are still struggling with unemployment at a rate well over 10%.

I don’t understand why, during the whole debate about Michigan ramming right-to-work down peoples’ throats, no one ever asked how RTW is supposed to fix unemployment, and if it indeed does so in states that have these laws. I keep hearing beltway pundits yammer on about stuff like Nissan and VW plants in Tennessee, but there’s just this grand assumption that right-to-work is the #1 reason. You know what else we’ve got? Really, super cheap energy (thank you, big, bad, quasi-government TVA), a moderate climate, and most important, a central location within a day’s drive of 75% of the U.S. From a transportation/get your products to market point of view, that is huge.

[UPDATE]:

Curious. Right to work for thee but not for me?

ALTO, MI – Michigan House Democrats are calling an assistant majority floor leader a hypocrite for proposing an amendment that would have exempted her husband from right-to-work bills that lawmakers passed, and Gov. Snyder then signed into law.

State Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, was among right-to-work supporters quoted in The New York Times on Tuesday, Dec. 11, saying “this is the day that Michigan freed its workers.” But she also proposed to add corrections officers to the list of public employees – including police and fire – not covered by the right-to-work law.

The amendment was gaveled down and did not come up for a vote.

If right to work is so awesome, how come the GOP always want to exempt police and firefighters? And how come this Republiweasel tried to exempt her husband?

6 Comments

Filed under employment, unions