By on February 11, 2014

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Should the United Auto Workers win the upcoming election to represent workers at Volkswagen’s Chatanooga, Tenn. plant, the automaker may find itself shunned by state lawmakers as far as further subsidies are concerned.

Volkswagen is seeking a new site this year to build their CrossBlue-based mid-size SUV in 2016, wooing both powers that be in Tennessee and Mexico for subsidies. However, Republicans in the Tennessee state legislature are threatening to back down on $580 million in state and local incentives the government offered to the automaker in 2008.

Tennessee House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick and state senator Bo Watson both said VW would have “a very tough time” attracting anymore tax dollars from the coffers should the UAW win representation, and while they were happy to have the automaker in their backyard, it didn’t mean they were ever given a “green light” to force unionization into the plant. They also criticized VW for giving union supporters an unfair advantage against anti-unionization lobbyists, a charge the automaker denied in a statement supporting the workers’ right to be approached by union supporters and opponents prior to the upcoming election.

Furthermore, VW also stated they would have recognized the UAW through a card check in lieu of an election, but insisted on the workers voting for representation to reflect the automaker’s belief that “democracy is an American ideal,” according to vice president of human resources Sebastian Patta.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Governor Bill Haslam warned that the legislature would play a huge role in approving incentives to help fund the project — being too large for the state’s FastTrack incentive program as it is — and that the impact of UAW representation would affect the state’s ability to recruit other companies to the state.

Longtime UAW critic United States Senator Bob Corker originally remained mum on the upcoming vote, but after the union’s regional director Gary Casteel offered his praise of Corker’s statement by prompting other politicians to do the same in respect of the upcoming vote, the former mayor of Chattanooga felt the union was attempting to stifle other voices from commenting on the issue before stating that he would “return home [to] ensure [his] position was clear”: that the UAW would make VW “the laughingstock” of the automotive industry. Casteel fired back, calling Sen. Corker a flip-flopper prone to being swayed by special interests before restating his belief that UAW representation at the plant would improve the quality of life for both workers in the VW plant and everyone in Chattanooga.

Other critics weighed in on the election, such as the group called Southern Momentum, who quoted a factory worker leading the anti-unionization coalition at the plant as saying, “A vote for the UAW is a vote against the expansion of the plant, plain and simple.”

The election will take place from Wednesday to Friday of this week under supervision by the National Labor Relations Board. Around 1,500 workers will be eligible to vote during the three-day period.

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173 Comments on “Tennessee Lawmakers Threatening To Kill Subsidies If UAW Wins VW Plant...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Hilarious. So dot gov poured $577 MILLION into helping to build the plant, matching VAG roughly 57 cents on the dollar of its investment, and now they are willing to walk away from further incentives? This is like watching a wreck happen in real time.

    “Volkswagen invested approximately one billion U.S. dollars to construct the facility, with local, state, and federal governments subsidizing the project with an estimated $577 million in incentives.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Chattanooga_Assembly_Plant

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Sunk costs.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Wasted costs if VAG shuts it down after the gov’t gravy train ends.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Ahhhh, but the political feeding frenzy – it was the union’s fault. Had the workers not voted to unionize, we wouldn’t have had to stop handing over the income tax collected from the same workers to their employer.

          And the poor dumb masses will eat it up.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            One way to spin it for the proles.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I hope you guys realize that this is a done deal. The VW plant WILL unionize.

            Management wants it, the VW homeboys in Germany want it, the UAW wants it and the NLRB wants it and will insure that it happens.

            I would be surprised if the plant employees would vote against it, en masse.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      …and in the end, if the plant closes, it’s $577 million tax dollars right down the toilet. That’s almost 2% of the state’s total annual expenditures. And conservatives aren’t alarmed?

      Wow. Tells me all I need to know about conservatives in Tennessee.

      • 0 avatar
        jim brewer

        Well, that’s one of the many problems with all these local economic incentives. It causes the investor to overlook the other hidden costs of doing business—like the high cost of trying to do business with crazy people.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Not a Dem/Repub thing, its a gov’t waste thing.

        If VAG eventually shutters the plant it will be their call, but it will probably be UAW’s fault. Time will tell.

        Sidenote: The current crop of employees were hired using a specific type of assessment system, so they are not typical “union workers”, they were the best 2000 or so out of 70K+ applicants. I know this because they used my company’s software and one of my co workers worked on the project prior to my employment here.

        • 0 avatar
          Jan Bayus

          It is most certainly a political thing. The Republicans are cutting off their nose to spite their face because they hate unions. How idiotic and not surprising form the neolithic views of that party.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            No matter what happens if the plant is eventually closed it will be an enormous waste of gov’t money. Regarding your thoughts on Repubs, they have to oppose an entity which is bought and paid for by their competition.

          • 0 avatar
            George B

            The problem is the UAW actively supports Democrat politicians almost exclusively while groups representing large businesses spread their support across both parties. It’s rational for a Republican politician to vote against funding of their political opponents.

            Contrast Volkswagen with Nissan. Nissan had the good sense to site their facilities in the business-friendly exurbs of Nashville. US Politics 101 is counties with an urban core tend to be left-leaning while the ring of suburban counties lean right. Having got the political geography right, Nissan keeps a low profile in the political divide.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “The problem is the UAW actively supports Democrat politicians almost exclusively while groups representing large businesses spread their support across both parties.”

            That depends on the industry. Some split their donations, but many, like energy producers, are almost exclusively Republican backers. That explains the Republicans fighting anything that even hints at the development of alternative energy sources – it harms their clients.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            Pfft. There are plenty of industries that give majority to Dems. Mostly those getting the most from that support, as you would suspect. Plus high tech, which is full of leaders who either have no idea the realities of their customers government pains or are sociopathicly gaining from it.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Wait, $577 million to attract 2,000 jobs?

          That’s $288,500 per job!

          In what world is this sane?

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          I love how you spin this. IT is a classic moment of cognitive dissonance to avoid facing the reality that being a ‘conservative’ in America amounts to a moral indignation against anybody who doesn’t own the factory. Please, the incentives that go into help expanding factories (as compared to tax breaks) actually generate local economic stimulus. I don’t care if you’re an austerian or a Keynesian, the reality is dollars spent are dollars spent no matter who spends them. Denying the plant government support in expansion in the face of unionization should upset you because they’re interfering with the business relationship of a private entity.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Why does a 192.67 billion euro company need the support of the TN gov’t? 21.88 billion euro profit in 2012…

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “Why does a 192.67 billion euro company need the support of the TN gov’t?”

            For the same reason that Toyota was provided with benefits for expanding in Kentucky or that Nisszn could be provided with benefits to open up shop in Mississippi or Chrysler has the clout to start haggling for money with the Canadians — because automakers have the kind of leverage that allows them to make demands.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Pch101,
            “For the same reason that Toyota was provided with benefits for expanding in Kentucky or that Nisszn could be provided with benefits to open up shop in Mississippi or Chrysler”

            Eventually the State Governments are going to throw in towel as the economy tanks(it looks like that now) and they are paying money to support something that is more a liability than a Asset.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            ” because automakers have the kind of leverage that allows them to make demands.”

            That is in no way an answer. You might as well have just stopped at because.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        It won’t close, and your mind was closed about every issue even tangential to this story years ago, and it’s obvious. Demagogue much?

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          That’s why my post said “IF (emphasis mine) the plant closes, it’s $577 million tax dollars right down the toilet.”

          Perhaps you just misread the original posting.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            Right. Sorry, but I thought then, and now, that was hyperbole for effect. “If the Republicans decide to end social security you will regret your vote.” That sort of if.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @28-Cars-Later Well it looks like Automotive plants only survive if you subsidize them in the US. Otherwise they look for cheaper alternatives.

    • 0 avatar
      VCplayer

      You know, completely overlooked here is that VW’s inability to sell cars in the US is a lot more likely to get this plant killed than Tennessee is.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        I thought of this – but then the UAW can be blamed for over a decade of crap quality, declining content, a God awful product mix that is tone deaf to North American buyers, and declining sales.

        Again, the poor dumb masses will eat it up.

    • 0 avatar
      Neutron73

      GOP way of doing business. Their BS about small government is about as truthful as Pravda during the height of the Cold War. They are only about small government and “leave the job creators alone” so long as the job creators are doing their bidding.

      Now that a “job creator” (a mindlessly stupid term) is thinking about changing their relationship with their workers (ie allowing them to unionize), the GOP abandons the “leave the “job creators” alone!” and threatens them with “destroy the union or we will interfere! Bump that! We will interfere BEFORE the union comes, because we certainly can’t have those pesky working folk trying to better themselves.”

      Whoever votes GOP in Tennessee and loses their job when VW decides to pack up and head for a UNIONIZED PLANT in another part of the world, they deserve all the heartache, pain, and suffering they VOTED FOR.

      Enjoy it! You earned it!

  • avatar
    matador

    If Tennessee has subsidized VW this much, losing that would be huge. It’ll be interesting to see how the vote turns out.

    I’m hoping for the best.

  • avatar
    Waterview

    I’m not close enough to the situation to know if there are compelling work/safety and/or compensation issues that merit union representation at this time. Assuming none, the 1,500 workers have far more to lose than the UAW. If and when there are clear issues that merit collective bargaining, I’m assuming the path to representation would be much clearer.

    I don’t have a dog in this fight other than I’d hate to see the new SUV plant go to Mexico – we can desperately use jobs of this type here in the USA.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    What do the VW workers believe the UAW brings to the table for them?

    Seriously, what’s the sales pitch they presented to the 1500 workers?

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      VW management wants to institute the type of arrangement it has in Germany with “workers’ councils.”

      Over here, under the Wagner Act, that would be considered a “company union,” and thus banned. Hence, VW’s lack of resistance to the unionization effort.

      This plant is brand-new, and there haven’t been any credible stories of worker abuse by management, so I don’t know what the UAW’s “pitch” to the workers will be. It’s not like the 1930s, when the UAW was organizing plants with several years of history and not-so-great working conditions.

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        So basically the UAW have a toe-in more or less purely because, as so many of VAG’s problems in the US stem from.. they just don’t ‘Grok’ America? They think they can set-up a German-style ‘Workers’ Council’ and letting the UAW sign-on is a mere formality to instituting Shiny Happy cooperative worker representation, whereas the UAW is more likely to stick to it’s classic ‘Management is the enemy, The End’ adversarial representation style?

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      http://prospect.org/article/chattanooga-showdown

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Interesting. A company can’t have a works council unless the workers are unionized. That’s not silly at all.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Disagree, the attempt on the part of VAG is to create a forum where their employees have a dialog with management and have a voice in policies, which is a wise policy. Quoting the article: “The argument for establishing works councils is that they help workers assert their interests, management get feedback it wouldn’t otherwise get, and companies create practices that are agreed to by both management and labor and that therefore boost productivity.”. UAW is overkill for what VAG wants to implement based on the article has said.

        • 0 avatar
          993cc

          The National Labor Relations Board regulations that require workers who are represented by a works council to also be represented by an independent union is a result of gilded age abuses, in which factory owners required their workers to join, and pay dues to, management-controlled “unions”.

          The interesting thing about the arrangement that the workers in Chattanooga are voting on is that the UAW will only negotiate issues of compensation. Factory floor issues will be handled by the works council. The UAW is actually seeking a smaller role than they have traditionally had in Detroit.

  • avatar
    skor

    I thought red states were all about no government interference. What a joke this country has become.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Sort of like blue states supposedly being against corporate welfare, while handing out grants, tax breaks and infrastructure improvements to all sorts of big corporations.

      I hate to break it you, but confusion/hypocrisy reigns on both sides of the ideological divide in 21st century America – if one actually cares to look at actions, and not just words.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        The problem is the word “both”. That’s the source of much the problem.

        Only those (insert derogatory term du jour) Tea Party (insert synonym for extremists or crazies) think things would be better if we let companies like VW go without special breaks. Of course, that would never work. It’s totally unreasonable, and likely racist.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        The problem comes when a state government hands out tax breaks BASED ON PURE IDEOLOGY. It makes sense for a locality or state to offer tax incentives for a company to locate based on job creation, tax receipts, and so on. But apparently that’s not Tennessee’s intention here. They only want to create jobs IF they’re non-union jobs. That’s a bunch of ideological nonsense, and it’s transparent as hell. Last I checked, the workers at that plant – taxpayers all, I’d assume – aren’t doing anything illegal by joining a union, and this is how their state government reacts?

        They should be ashamed of themselves.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          If you want to be consistent on stopping government handouts based on pure ideology, which is in no way in evidence here yet, you are going to find yourself in hostile company among Democrats.

          Just Say’n.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            OK, name me ONE case similar to this, in which a state government controlled by Democrats threatened to pull state tax breaks to a private company based solely on the legally-protected activities of its employees.

            I don’t think you’ll find one.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            That’s a nice straw man you’ve set up.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            FM,
            The Dems threaten this consistently at the federal level, and sometimes do it. I was thus put out of business. I used to sell light aircraft.

            Besides that, tax breaks, subsidies, and penalties based on PURE IDEOLOGY are about all the Democrats do anymore. Are you kidding me? Green this, benefit that, etc. Both parties do it, how about let’s be consistent and stop ALL of it?

            Danio,
            Straw Man?

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “Danio,
            Straw Man?”

            Directed at Freed, he changed the argument slightly to make it easier to attack from his false premise that these kinds of tax breaks are somehow legally enshrined to the UAW.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          “It makes sense for a locality or state to offer tax incentives for a company to locate based on job creation, tax receipts, and so on.”

          No it doesn’t. Smokestack chasing just rewards corporations for successfully playing localities off agasint each other.

      • 0 avatar
        Jan Bayus

        As a liberal, I agree with your observation. American Capitalism can’t work without government assistance.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          I applaud you. I likely disagree, depending on how you define government assistance anyway. However, you pointed out your belief in a way that it’s your belief rather than some fact the other idiots just don’t get. It’s refreshing and reminds me to try to do the same.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Sounds like non-interference is what their state government is threatening.

      • 0 avatar

        Perfect assessment.

        I also find “democracy is an American ideal,” to be misleadingly simplistic. Liberty is an American ideal, democracy is merely a means of attaining representation to ensure liberty. While still an arguable point here, its radically different than pretending America is all about majority ruling.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I’d say they’re interfering, all right – they’re trying to deter the workers at that plant from joining a union.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          People tend to like the kind of government interference that benefits them directly, and dislike the interference when those benefits disappear.

          Either direction, there are winners and losers. Personally, I’d rather pick the winners and losers by choosing (or avoiding) the product that they make, rather than letting government representatives influence the bottom line.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            It’s not a question of benefits – it’s a question of legality. There are things you can do and things you can’t do. Trying to keep workers from organizing falls in the latter category.

            I’m sorry, but I think that a state making tax benefits to a corporation based on a non-unionized workforce is blatantly illegal, and I don’t think it would survive a court challenge. As far as a company denying its workers the right to organize is concerned, that’s settled law.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Not contributing financially on the part of the government doesn’t count as union busting. If it did, it would infer that the plant/workers/UAW had some right to the subsidies.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Interesting Danio, except that there is almost zero proof that any large scale boycott is effective. Most people aren’t ideologically driven when faced with purchases and by keeping wages stagnant for the past 45 years due largely to economic policy changes that occurred at the end of liberalism’s strongest reign we’re left with a system that has to pick and choose ‘winners and losers’ as conservatives so love to talk about.

            In other words: Because conservatives cut the legs out from under the worker the worker has little choice not that they were likely to exploit it. The reality is people aren’t that complex so you’re supposed vaunted ability to be discerning is unrealistic.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “Interesting Danio, except that there is almost zero proof that any large scale boycott is effective”.

            You’re kidding. In your world GM and Chrysler still went bankrupt, right?

            I wasn’t talking about an ideogolical boycott in my comment above, I was talking about the tendency for consumers to buy to products with best value. Government tax incentives, when directed selectiveley, can increase the competitive advantages of a given company and change the value propostion of the product courtesy of the taxpayer.

            TN taxpayers who work for competing companies may not want to subsidize VW, nor should they have to.

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      Tell me about it. Sick sick country this place is.

  • avatar
    carguy

    That’s one confused state government. You either choose to subsidize manufacturing or you don’t. Pulling out after so much money was spent is purely based on their ideological rage that the UAW has come to their state. I am sure they think this is a deterrent but meddling in a companies internal affairs is not really in line with the conservative ethos of government getting out of the way of business.

    Or maybe they can extend their deterrent policies to stop other liberal things from happening in their state? Maybe threaten to cancel Christmas if ACA is implemented or burn down the whole state if gay people are allowed to marry?

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      Confused and, even more, conflicted. VW Chattanooga is one of Tennessee’s top marquee industrial acquisitions, and now it’s going rogue. The parent company has substantial public ownership and a long, successful history of organized labor. So they’re coming at this issue from a very different place from most of their neighboring manufacturers. I’d expect Sen. Corker is hearing plenty of pushback and bogeyman tales from the other factory owners, who fear unions above all else. So while I disagree with his actions, they’re understandable.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    Tenn. lawmakers see that tax subsidies are converted into UAW wage, pension and retirement funding.
    PA VW experiment comes to mind.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Thanks to progressive New Speak, the word subsidy is now meaningless. That makes this story rather meaningless.

    I am rather ambivalent anyway. If the state breaks it’s word, would that get us any closer to a world where the state stops doing that? Would it mean we stop making these deals? Could we then start using tariffs against states and countries that do these deals?

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Interstate competition using state or federal funds to attract new business is one of the biggest threats to the democratic underpinnings of our nation. It violates equal protection by subjecting corporations to different regulations, without any compelling reason for discrimination. The subsidies also transfer taxpayer dollars from the middle class to corporate coffers. Though I appreciate the counter-intuitive nature of supply subsidies, which often allow consumers to capture much of the benefit, the practice is still unconscionable.

      We have the Commerce Clause for a reason. Pork-barreled deals are politicians’ favorite kind of corruption, but a preponderance of the states are burned by the shenanigans of the economic powerhouses, and it would be in their best interest to snuff out competitive corporate welfare between the states.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        You may not like the practice of offering tax breaks (and neither do I), but I see no evidence that it’s illegal or unconstitutional.

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          Tax discrimination, without a legally-sanctioned reason, is not a violation of Equal Protection? If car manufacturing deals don’t look dirty enough to be illegal, look at the sports industry.

          These kinds of deals are allowed because politicians love to associate with wealthy donors, and states claim that the Tenth Amendment takes precedent over the Fourteenth Amendment. They conveniently ignore the Commerce Clause.

          The situation is clear cut, like drinking age of 21. Obviously, it is unconstitutional to discriminate on the basis of age after someone reaches majority, but the government makes it so because nearly everyone in government thinks age-discrimination after majority is a great idea.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            You make an interesting point but if this was truly illegal or unconstitutional, you’d see court cases. Given that at least some the parties being “discriminated” against are major corporations on the scale of VW of A, would sure love to get the same tax breaks, and have plenty of lawyers, I’d think you’d see a LOT of these cases. I mean, GM has a large plant in Tennessee as well, and I’m sure they’d love half a billion in tax breaks. But I can’t find any cases in which the constitutionality / legality of this sort of deal has been challenged. Do you have any cites?

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Kind of interestiit is interesting the way the Commerce clause gets used. If they were consistent, it would seem these things would get snuffed out.

      • 0 avatar
        E46M3_333

        “…using state or federal funds to attract new business…”

        You think Tennessee cut VW a check for $570M?

        These “subsidies” are reductions in tax payments THAT WOULDN’T EXIST IF THE PLANT WERE NOT THERE.
        .
        .

        • 0 avatar
          romanjetfighter

          Well, these reductions in tax income from VW is paid for, in part, by the income tax of the people who now work there. So instead of the tax from the people’s wages going to our government to pay for the military, infrastructure, and public education, it is going to VW. The state that offers the most tax benefits to VW wins. It makes sense, economically speaking, and markets are amoral, but it’s not ideal for us because when the government to cut taxes on businesses, they have to make it up somewhere else.

          It’s just kind of sad to see workers all over the world have very little bargaining power, Americans included. Capital and jobs can move to wherever suits them best. Laborers are stuck with whatever is available.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @TW5,
        Agreed. Others on this blog cannot see that and understand why the US is increasingly becoming a poor choice to set up shop despite(at the moment)a relatively good exchange rate and generous subsidies.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Rush made the Tennessee state legislature say that or he wouldn’t give out any more free oxycontin. Then they would really start whining.

    • 0 avatar
      olddavid

      Even the “Excellence in Broadcasting” major domo has supply problems these days. The EHR provisions makes it hard for him to access multiple scripts in his name, plus Florida is closing their one stop clinics. Hell, if you were going through a full-fledged jones, you’d be perpetually cranky, too. As to the union, please don’t start down the “they wrecked X company” road. Again. Leave that to RF, or access his death watch series.

  • avatar
    sideshowtom98

    The lawmakers of TN invested public money in VW to bring jobs, and tax revenue to the area. Nothing, nothing, nothing in life is free. VW stuck a finger in their eye by featherbedding with the UAW. Public sentiment in TN is anti union, so the lawmakers are protecting THEIR jobs, by informing VW this is unacceptable, and will not continue at a second location, if public money is involved. Since public money, according to other posters, represents 57% of the startup costs! the public is the defacto majority partner. Looks live VW screwed up big time in several areas: thinking public money is free; thinking that the public couldn’t/wouldn’t do anything.

    VW continues with the same sort of poor PR that ruined their last attempt to establish NA production.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I was just quoting Wikipedia. If VAG eventually shuts it down, I wonder if the TN Attorney General could sue VAG and get them in Federal court for the startup costs/subsidies?

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      This has nothing to do with VW.

      The workers are the ones who will take the hit. The state is pretty much black mailing its own residents. Sounds like a wonderful place to live.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      VW can’t legally prevent its workers from forming or joining a union. I’d say they were the party with the most to lose if the state ends subsidies, but in reality, it’s the whole state of Tennessee, which would have punished a private company for not breaking the law and interfering with its employees joining a union. VW didn’t do a thing wrong here.

      Who the f**k would want to build a plant in Tennessee after that?

  • avatar
    bills79jeep

    Ostensibly, the idea that if VW goes union, other companies will avoid the state is a reasonable rationale. However, I’d say the real reason is simple, and twofold:
    1. Republican voters are traditionally anti-union. To stay in office, the politicians oppose unionization in order to satiate the voters.
    2. Unions donate to Democrat candidates. More union dues means more money in your opponent’s war chest – something every pol wants to avoid.

    Honestly, if they acted any differently I’d be surprised.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      bills79jeep – By law the union can’t use dues for political ads, but the union does lobby at the state level and in Washington – just like everyone else.

      You’d be surprised by how many union workers vote Republican.

      • 0 avatar
        bills79jeep

        I’m not surprised by the number of union members that vote Republican, but I am always surprised that they do. Hey, the world’s a complicated place and the reasons people vote like they do aren’t black and white.

        Personally, I’m not in a union and wouldn’t want to be. However, if the workers really want it, and I felt they could democratically decide in a fair environment (secret ballot), then more power to them. It’s their job on the line. I am just pointing out the realpolitik that I think is happening. It’s no secret that the UAW, SEIU, etc are large and vocal supporters of the Democratic party, through voluntary member contributions and from general funds, albeit by less direct routes.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “You’d be surprised by how many union workers vote Republican.”

        I can think of quite a few workers in Chattanooga who you couldn’t pay to vote Republican after this episode.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          You say that like its obvious they don’t like this, but it’s not. UAW has done some crazy things that outsiders gave thought stupid many times over. They certainly don’t all agree.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            OK, but think not only of all the workers in Chattanooga whose jobs might be affected, but ALL the union workers in the whole state. Basically, what we have is a Republican legislature that is thinking of punishing a private company for letting its employers organize, when the company is legally enjoined against preventing it, thus putting jobs at risk.

            Seems to me that might put more than a few union workers in the state over the fence to the Democrats’ side.

            And think of the other companies that might consider building manufacturing plants in the state – why would they want to open themselves up to this kind of nonsense?

            This move is dumb for business, dumb for the state’s economy, and dumb politically.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            You are assuming the legislators will actually do something like that. They have not done so, nor even really threatened to do so.

            This is very analogous to someone claiming the Obama war on coal would be a war on drivers -only the legislators haven’t fired a shot. AFAIK, it was anti UAW, not union in general. (Coal, not all fossil fuels). And, they just said no more freebies. (Not we will forbid many people from using your product domestically as President Obama threatened, and did).

            Let’s be consistent, and realistic. The power is actually all on the side of the unions with the full force of the US courts backing them in almost every possible scenario.

            The only thing these guys can do is NOT give VW things they are not entitled to and should not get. Why is it a bad thing not to give special breaks to companies that are UAW while screwing the little guys? Why?

      • 0 avatar
        onyxtape

        People are strange creatures. Every Tea Party / conservative friend I have is either a government employee or whose industries rely on massive government subsidies.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Perhaps that’s where they get their perspective. I know that my past experience working in government-run enterprises definitely pushed me closer to libertarianism.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Did anyone mention keeping the plant union-free as a condition of the incentive money? And what business is it of the Tennessee state legislature how VW workers vote? And how is the UAW having a unionized plant in the state magically going to scare away other businesses?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Good questions, I would say it wasn’t properly contemplated by either party at the time and no contingency was agreed upon.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      It’s not magic. Put yourself in the executives’ shoes. Even if you don’t find unions a pain in the butt, the UAW goes above and beyond.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      I suspect it wasn’t mentioned. Here in AL, we’ve “bribed” several auto plants (and reaped the results back pretty quickly). None of them have seriously attempted to unionize, not even the Mercedes people with a German parent company and tons of union workers in Europe.

      I honestly suspect that nobody involved in the VW deal ever thought this would happen, or that explicitly banning it would sink the deal.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Making the plant contingent on being non-union would have been illegal. You cannot legally enjoin workers from organizing.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        You are correct; they couldn’t legally enjoin workers from organizing. So instead they are taking the next option: Extortion. “Those are some nice incentives you have there, VW. Be a shame if anything happened to them…” I don’t think that’s an improvement.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      That requirement would be a violation of the civil rights of Americans. Simply put, Tennessee assumed the UAW would have no interest in trying. Turns out VW’s labor groups felt otherwise. Conservatives are whining.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      Maybe, it if opens the door to unionism at other factories.

  • avatar
    Sooke

    I’d like to thank the people of Tennessee for helping to pay for my new VW.

  • avatar
    MPAVictoria

    Shorter Republican Party: “Unemployment Before Unions!”

  • avatar
    Charlie84

    The TN GOP state legislators should be honest about their motives: They’re willing to give away thousands of American jobs because they’re afraid of the UAW’s political organizing muscle.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      That’s really what it boils down to.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Organizing muscle? The UAW has been trying to crack the transplant factories for over three decades, and has nothing to show for it. The UAW wasn’t even able to organize the Mercedes plant in Alabama when Daimler-Benz merged with, I mean, took over, Chrysler Corporation.

        The only reason the UAW is making any headway at the VW plant is that management is basically holding the door open for it.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      That’s not their motives. They may want to avoid UAW influence in their state. That’s a motive. The other bits are just what you think the likely results of their actions will be. Do you honestly believe they intend to throw away thousands of jobs? That’s like the conservatives saying the UAW wants to throw away thousands of jobs by trying to unionize the plant in the first place. It’s not a very helpful argument.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Joining a union is perfectly legal, last I checked. Therefore, they can “want to avoid the UAW” all they want, but legally, they can’t do anything about it. If those workers want to organize, they’re legally entitled to do so.

        And based on the behavior of the loony right (and not all ARE loony), it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they were willing to compromise that plant, and all those jobs, based on nothing more than the fact that the UAW is a source of funding for the opposing party.

        And they want to go before the voters in a few years and stand by this “we’re willing to let jobs in our state go because they want to join a union” garbage? That doesn’t seem like much of a winning campaign strategy to me.

        What I find so interesting here is that the union haters on the right are blissfully fine with unionized labor in a myriad of other industries, including defense, which last I checked, is near and dear to their conservative hearts. Yes, that’s right – all those warplanes, missiles, ships, tanks and other materiel that conservatives are first in line to fund (even over-fund) are mainly built with evil union labor, and that’s been so for a long, long time.

        Where’s the “increasing defense funding is a bone tossed to unions” argument? Nowhere to be found, I fear.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          I am unaware of any union haters that are happy about unions at defense contractors.

          You are making the same mistake Charlie84 made. If you want to blather like a talking head then feel free, but if you want to make a pointinthen stop making up stuff. Even if the legislators in question would be willing to give up jobs to fight the UAW, you have no evidence they actually want to do so. They are a pro job, pro business, pro production party.

          I suspect they believe, as do I, that UAW influence kills jobs. I point to Michigan as evidence. You can argue with that and be reasonable, but simply saying they are willing to hurt people over UAW hate isn’t advancing the ball.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “They are a pro job, pro business, pro production party. ”

            Clearly they are…as long as the jobs aren’t union jobs. But let’s look at it from the employer’s perspective for a moment.

            What happens when the NEXT manufacturing company looks at setting up shop in Tennessee, and reads about VW’s experience? They’re going to come to the conclusion that the state of Tennessee will only support their company’s relocation IF their workforce isn’t unionized. Problem is, companies have no legal right whatsoever to prevent unionization. If their workers want to organize, that’s beyond their control. That puts the company in an untenable position – for the state to roll out the welcome mat, the company basically has to agree to break the law.

            What company in its right mind would want to deal with that? And how, precisely, is that a “pro business” policy? It isn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The only vested interest I have in this other than amusement is the fact I personally may have to deal with it depending on if and how the plant’s hiring policies are modified (which I am certainly not looking forward too). However I feel compelled to respond to two points:

            “Clearly they are…as long as the jobs aren’t union jobs”

            UAW specifically is a literal a fundraising arm of the [People\'s] Democratic Party who donates heavily in local and federal elections. If you happen to be a member of a competing politically party, allowing their very existence in your district is a threat to your party’s survival. You *have* to oppose them because they are complete ideologues with a nice cash pile to burn. Although this is just a random link, if this data is true its very telling. Not one Republican in either the House or Senate, with very few of the contributions coming from individuals.

            http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/recips.php?cycle=2014&id=d000000070

            “for the state to roll out the welcome mat, the company basically has to agree to break the law.”

            I agree there is some hypocrisy going on in such an arrangement. However the current administration is breaking Federal law by not implementing rules from its own signature legislation, laws only seem to apply when the situation is politically favorable. The best way to go the unions issue in my view would be to repeal the federal statute and allow the states to pass their own laws on the matter.

            http://therightscoop.com/krauthammer-on-obamacare-employer-mandate-delay-this-is-stuff-you-do-in-a-banana-republic/

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            No, they are what I said. They generally believe that the net affect of UAW growth is less jobs, less growth, less production. They aren’t pro every job, they are pro value add jobs. It’s not just UAW influence they don’t like, they don’t like all sorts of jobs resulting in bad outcomes or waste because those jobs negatively affect the total value produced.

            I believe that those potential employers will skip Tennessee for a state without UAW if the UAW gets its claws in. I also think I am better than you at putting myself in the CEO’s shoes (though I don’t rate myself above average at it). Potential employers are likely to support these guys for their stand, at least until they actually do something overtly bad for VW.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Pro-Job – At lowest wages possible. They’re willing to ignore the iron law of wages and expect people to work at lower wages than livable. In fact they’ve consistently resisted clear proof of this.

            Pro-Business – maybe? You said you lost your business well it wasn’t because Democrats wanted you out of work. Republicans and conservatives talk a good game but they’re really capital-anarchists who support the biggest and strongest to destroy the weak. Do you think they care if mom and pop closes up shop over Wal-Mart?

            Pro-Production – What does that even mean? Are you trying to argue they believe in supply side economics? You know, that completely failed economic theory that has been discredited but still gets support from capitalists at the top because it maintains their power?

            Please….at some point you should come back to reality and actually try reading some macroeconomic theory. You seem completely in the land of make believe.

            You use Michigan as a cover for the loss of jobs to unions. Well I would point out it is the acceptance of ‘free trade’ that did that. There is no requirement in our democracy that we openly accept slave labor wages from foreign countries to build products. In fact this is the underlying issue with capitalism. It ultimately becomes a race to the bottom and unions represent a push back against that ideology.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Speaking of the need to come back to reality…

            Last time I checked, Detroit – aka the Big Three – was hurt by competitors based in Germany, Japan, South Korea and Sweden.

            Those competitors were not paying their workers “less than the minimum wage,” nor have Germany, Japan or Sweden ever been classified as third world countries. Maybe South Korea was at one time, but certainly not in the last 30 or so years.

            GM, Ford and Chrysler have also faced stiff competition from factories based right here in the good old US of A run by Honda, Hyundai, Nissan and Toyota. Those companies do not pay their workers the minimum wage, and the workers are not laboring under Victorian working conditions.

            In the real world (remember, you want us all to stay there, which I do recommend), those factories provide good-paying jobs to people. Thanks to the superior management techniques used by those companies, the workers are satisfied and produce a quality product.

            This country still has a thriving automobile industry. It just no longer consists solely of GM, Ford and Chrysler, and the UAW no longer has a monopoly on the labor used to build those vehicles. Nor is it based mostly in the industrial Midwest.

            As for your complaints about “free trade” – basically, you wanted us to be “protected” from the horrors of buying a Toyota Corolla or a Honda Accord instead of Dodge Shadow or an Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera.

            This may come as a shock, but hardly anyone – Democrat or Republican – was willing to push that agenda in the 1980s. Lots of Democrats, for example, were happily buying Toyotas, Hondas, Lexuses and Acuras during that time.

            That’s because…drumroll, please…they were better than the competing products of the home team.

            If we had enacted stiff protectionist measures to ensure that the Big Three never lost any market share, and a UAW member never lost a job, we’d be driving heavily updated Chevrolet Cavaliers that cost $45,000 and break down every other month. Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll take free trade.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Geeber,
            Very good post. The now to be defunct Australian built car industry only accounted for 14% of overall sales. Best performers were the locally built models, still the unions helped kill Toyota here and both did Holden and Ford no favours.It seems the US is going the same way. I am a member of a Union, but would not be happy about the extortion practices of the UAW or the Automotive Building Workers here.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            X,
            If you insist on telling the other side what they think and mean, they will always be the other side. I never said that Democrats wanted me out of work. Some of them said they wanted more redistribution, and less jet use by CEOs. The combo led to the destruction of the American piston aircraft business rather than the stated target of free jet use for CEOs. I don’t know what they really wanted and don’t care. The business is now being taken over by foreign companies when we used to dominate it.

            None of this has anything to do with wingnut macroeconomics. It’s not supply side anything. I believe in the government staying out of things except when needed to stop situations such as monopolies or unfair business practices. I don’t believe a dollar spent is a dollar spent. A dollar spent by someone who earned it gives us a lot more information, and generally more value multiplication, than a dollar spent by someone who did not earn it. The latter most often waste it.

            It’s not capitalism making a chase to the bottom. Blame globalization if you like. I blame statism. The reality is that the only fix is to ditch taxing labor. Unions can stand for anything, but they have ceased being a net plus. Good intentions and three dollars gets you a cup at Starbucks.

  • avatar
    alsorl

    Looks like the legislators care more about a few right wing talk show hosts over they own tax paying citizens.

  • avatar
    TW5

    If American unions were true to the cause of maximizing middle class employment to stop the over-leaning of US manufacturing by greedy executives, they’d probably have the unwavering support of the American people. As it stands, unions are just capitalist organizations that seek perpetually higher wages by circumventing labor markets via threats of extortion (strikes).

    The UAW is one of the pillars of socialist corruption in the United States. If the TN legislature wants to cut the head off of the serpent, more power to them. The version of socialism we practice in the US is anything but socialism, and that’s why it is so damaging to our nation.

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      What is socialism? Define it.

      • 0 avatar
        MPAVictoria

        Like he knows.

        “As it stands, unions are just capitalist organizations that seek perpetually higher wages by circumventing labor markets via threats of extortion (strikes).”

        This is nonsensical.

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          I hope you’re not trying to suggest that an institution with declining membership and surging legacy expenses is attempting to optimize the US manufacturing sector for laborers and spread wide the productivity associated with their work. That would be nonsensical.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        Social democracies, the literal meaning of colloquialisms like “socialism” in the developed world, are basically just Kaldor-Hicks and Pigovian theory. They seek to maximize societal utility through stringent management of public resources and mild disregard for property ownership regulation.

  • avatar
    canddmeyer

    McCormick & Watson won’t be living off the public dole if they follow through with their idiotic vision.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Makes sense, every dollar that goes to UAW is a dollar that is given to the DNC.

    For a state to give money to a political party against the ruling parties cause would be beyond rediculous.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      How, precisely, is the state giving money to the Democrats? Please explain.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      I always love when these pro-business conservatives turn into heated partisans when they’re supposed love of the free market clashes with with their horse-race view of politics. Which is it hummer, do you believe in free markets or are you a partisan republican seeking to avoid benefiting the citizens that elected them?

  • avatar
    thornmark

    “However, Republicans in the Tennessee state legislature are threatening to back down on $580 million in state and local incentives the government offered to the automaker in 2008.”

    I believe that statement is incorrect. I read the article and it appears they are merely refusing to offer further incentives – beyond what they committed to – which makes sense. They appear to be reneging on nothing.

    Why would TN voters want politicians to subsidize the UAW? Because that’s what they would be doing.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Why would they prefer any future jobs go to Mexicans instead of their neighbors?

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        Detroit is a monument to the UAW. They own it.

        If Tennesseans want future jobs in TN, they’ll want the UAW to just go away. Mexico is no doubt hoping for a UAW win, the UAW has been very good for Mexico.

        Little doubt the Germans union wants VW to fail again in the US and the UAW is part of that.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          You forgot to blame unions for flatulence and bad table manners too.

          Why the hell would the UAW want the VW plant to fail when it’s trying to organize it? That makes zero sense.

          Anyone who has done even minimal research into Detroit’s history knows the failure of the Big Three was the cause of the city’s decline. And even minimal research into the history of the Big Three reveals that unions played a marginal role, at best, in their failure.

          Or did unions demand that they build Vegas with melting engines, Pintos that exploded, Aspens that rusted through in a year, or sad jokes like the Cimarron?

          Did unions force the Big Three to plow the billions they made off the truck/SUV craze of the 1990s into buying stakes in the likes of Fiat, Volvo, Jaguar, or Saab, versus reinvesting the money into better product?

          Was it unions that made the decision by Ford to build the Taurus with the same basic mechanicals for over 20 years, or GM to do the same with the Cavalier for 25 years?

          A LOT of factors went into the failure of the Big Three. Unions were certainly a factor, but far from the only one.

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            Ok I’ll play.

            It was the unions who made “avoid buying a car made on a Monday or Friday” a reality.

            It was unions who purposely sabotaged quality to send a message or get time off.

            It was union activity that led to the non-competitiveness of at least one independent, and stopped production of new models numerous times to get the automakers on their knees.

            I worked two different public sector jobs in the heavily unionzed Northeast and became appalled at the lack of work quality concern and effort by my forced unions. I fled to a RTW state as soon as I could.

            Oh, and Detroit’s dismal failure is a monument to unions period, not just the UAW. Shitty government leadership didn’t help either.

            I do feel sorry for the earnest people trying to clean up the mess left behind, or those who couldn’t get out.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Dave M. – Seriously, did you just write up a series of nonsensical and completely UNPROVEN statements to seem cool to the rich kids? Please, you have no clue when a car is made in this country. That old remark about ‘avoid buying X on Y day’ is complete BS. It is an old cold war meme that was sold about the USSR. In reality the heyday of automaking in the US plants didn’t shut down. So there was no ‘monday or friday’ to them, simply off-time to workers.

            Unions purposely sabotaged quality? In what land would that make sense? You do realize that an automaker can control quality by telling them to reassemble. If the cars were that shabby they could push the assembly line back and force them to do it over. These remarks are completely unfounded and live off in some fantasy land.

            Union activity led to non-competiveness at atleast one independent? Which one? Hudson? Packard? Studebaker? Almost all were done in by a mixture of mismanagement and market forces. Unions even in their prime weren’t able to create the forces you’re arguing. If anything the big 3 were the big 3 for a reason. They had the resources to weather a bad product. When the indies screwed up it was a death knell.

            Personally these anecdotes are hilarious every time to me. The ‘I left because I have a moral highground!’ just kills me every time. So tell me, what public service job did you work that you willingly quit? Can I get a number to that place as well? I’m willing to call and do research because frankly they sound like a great case study….Oh you never worked for these places and you’re a liar? Wonderful.

            Detroit was brought down by the fact they were a one-industry town and the wealthiest industrialists decided to reinvest in other places rather than in their own back yard. It has zero to do with unionization and more to do with cheap overseas or foreign labor that will work for below US minimum wage.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Studebaker management caved in to union demands after World War II, in order to preserve labor peace and speed up the conversion to peace time work. In the years immediately following World War II, there were numerous strikes in this country. GM, in particular, endured a very long strike by the UAW in 1946. Studebaker management felt that it could not afford a strike, particularly one anyone near the duration of the GM strike.

            By 1953, Studebaker’s labor costs were about 20 percent higher than those of GM. Studebaker had to spread that cost over a much smaller production base than GM did.

            In 1953, Studebaker personnel “costed out” a 1953 Studebaker Commander Starliner using GM’s cost structure. They discovered that GM could have sold it for LESS than a Chevrolet Bel Air! Meanwhile, Studebaker had to sell it at Buick prices to even begin to make a profit. (In those days, there was still a considerable gap between Chevrolet and Buick prices.)

            That left Studebaker with much less room to maneuver if a model failed to catch on with customers.

            The blame for Studebaker’s demise can’t be laid entirely at the feet of the union, but absolving the UAW completely is also inaccurate.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Tennessee politicians don’t get to determine whether people in the state subsidize the UAW or not – the WORKERS get to do that. That is the law. If they’re willing to even contemplate bending it to start a political ruckus, that tells me all about this legislature I need to know.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        The pols can decide not to offer subsidies. I really don’t understand your hypocrisy here either. Are you really for the state giving freebies to corporations? Isn’t the need for a union based on the unfairness of the corporation?

  • avatar
    smartascii

    Maybe the Tennessee state legislature doesn’t care one way or the other about unions, but is using them as an excuse not to give VW any more money. After all (if I understood the article correctly), $580 million for 1,500 jobs comes to roughly $386k per job. At that price, the state could hire those 1,500 workers at $15/hr directly for 12 years and have money left over.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Neither collective bargaining nor evolution are in the Bible, therefore Tennessee has no use for either.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Mmmmmmm? Before this latest news, I figured the UAW would lose by about 10-15 percent. With this new info???? I predict a UAW loss by 25 -35 percent. This news will push the fence sitters over to the no union side.

    No thinking person is going to risk their” better than average job” in these economoic times

    • 0 avatar
      Senna1

      Precisely. Arguing over whether these threats actually make logical/business/fiscal sense misses the point entirely.

      This is a political action meant to spread FUD and (hopefully) influence the election. That it comes on the eve of the start of voting just confirms it.

      What would/will happen after the election is anyone’s guess, but I’m pretty sure that TN isn’t just going to show VW the door even if the UAW gains a foothold, regardless of what the politicians say today.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Which means that had the good State Senators kept their stupid pie holes closed, the union vote would have gone their way, they could (rightly) claim victory and move on.

      Now all they’ve done is open themselves up (rightly) to charges of intimidation and coercion.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The US Justice Department should have fun with this one.

    Creating a direct quid pro quo between subsidies and union membership is not something that Uncle Sam should tolerate, given that unions are legal while attempts to break unions most certainly are not.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      +100

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Building a farm instead of an auto plant is legal, but TN does not subsidize that. I don’t see anything illegal about TN threatening to take away subsidies in the case of unionization.

      If VW was making threats about expansion due to unionization that would be different, and violate the National Labor Relations Act. But I don’t see any issue here.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        It is perfectly legal for workers to unionize, and it’s illegal for the government or companies to enjoin them from doing so, so I’d like to hear your reasoning as to why Tennessee linking tax breaks to a guarantee of non-unionization is legal.

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          It’s perfectly legal for landowners to farm, and it’s illegal for the government to enjoin them from doing so (regulatory taking), so I’d like to hear your reasoning as to why Tennessee linking tax breaks to a guarantee of auto production is legal.

          Tax breaks are linked to a number of otherwise legal activities.

          States offer tax credits to people that buy electric cars, even though states are preempted from banning internal combustion cars.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @Freedmike,
          In a strictly legal definition they are not. They are putting pressure on the company , not too IF they want subsidies,

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Union membership is defined as a right, under the federal NLRA.

        Now you have a state government that is threatening to withhold funding based solely upon participation in an activity that is not only legal, but that is also specifically protected under federal law.

        That smells like the basis for an equal protection argument. A smart conservative wouldn’t want to open that can of worms; the worms could bite.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          “Now you have a state government that is threatening to withhold funding based solely upon participation in an activity that is not only legal, but that is also specifically protected under federal law.”

          We have two legislators threatening nothing like that. I am of course being totally extreme and partisan for pointing out the truth in a discussion about unions, the Constitution, race, or the environment, but I suppose you guys should be used to it by now.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “We have two legislators threatening nothing like that.”

            Er, that’s exactly what they’re doing.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            Not according to the story above. Maybe according to something from MSNBC or similar source?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            My source is the same source that the TTAC blogger used for this article: a far-left Marxist publication (cough, cough) called Automotive News.

            Headline: Tenn. politicians threaten to kill VW incentives if UAW wins election

            The article then details the aforementioned threats.

            This is a fairly blatant act of intimidation by these members of the state legislature, as they try to force the union vote to go in a particular way.

            I’m not sure how much more obvious that they have to be in order for you to see something that is so blatant. And federal law trumps state law, and federal law unmistakably codifies a right to union membership.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            That source does not back up your claim. There has been no threat to withdraw any funding.

            The threat is for those law makers to not support more bloated pork if they bring in the UAW specifically. One cannot withdraw funding not yet approved, offered, or even promised. VW is entitled to no more funding.

            There is also implication that VW may not have acted legally by its support for the UAW which means the threat is not over legal activity. That last bit may be pretty weak, but it’s minor league compared to some Clinton, Geithner, and Gore justifications.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I realize that you hate the union and enjoy redefining words in the English language to suit your purposes.

            But irrespective of your emotions pertaining to this topic, it should be quite clear that the legislators are telling the workers that the provider of their jobs is going to be at risk if they join the union. If the line workers and the not-so-left-wing Automotive News can figure this out, then surely you should also be able to.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            I’ll admit that I don’t accept that words always mean what a bunch of leftist academics try to make them mean, but if I am at odds with what all the dictionaries have always said, then I admit it. I will also admit to being anti union. Unless someone is an idiot, none of that should affect their judgement of what was said.

            I happen to understand what these legislators said and meant. You are trying to add to that meaning more than has been said. I won’t pretend to understand why. Nice to see you afraid of the government now, see you at the next Tea Party event?

            You don’t have to fear these guys and neither does VW. If they staked their future on largesse, their own stupidity is what they should fear.

            Only in liberal whacko land is threatening not to send a multi million dollar handout that was not promised nor earned considered withdrawing funding. Hell, even in liberal whacko land it’s not considered that when it is actually earned. See the stories on veterans benefits for examples.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “I happen to understand what these legislators said and meant.”

            Apparently not.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @Pch101,
          I see it not like that at all. The State Government is not banning Union Membership, it is telling VW it will not give any subsidies if the allow the UAW to sign up the workforce. Now VW can say we are going ahead anyway and we do not care if subsidies are stopped.
          It appears Automobile production in the US, is very heavily tied to subsidies. I guess most Automobile production would go elsewhere if subsidies are not paid.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      The fun will be where they stretch the truth and all reasonableness to make what isn’t a quid pro quo into an extortion case.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    Isn’t the UAW already in Tennessee over at Spring Hill Manufacturing? Isn’t it in fact too late because the UAW has been in Tennessee since Saturn set up shop?

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Cars are incredibly inexpensive adjusted for inflation and content. And many automakers make narrow profits or lose money.

    In addition, consumers can stop buying cars from a brand that they consider low quality or a poor value without having to go though any process to justify why they no longer want to buy cars from that car brand.

    Maybe the automakers should be allowed to form a union so that they can demand “fair” prices and treatment from consumers.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      “Maybe the automakers should be allowed to form a union so that they can demand “fair” prices and treatment from consumers.”

      Are there enough affluent people or banks willing to give 100+ month notes to support “fair” pricing? Seems to me the biggest hurdle vehicle manufacturers face is wage stagnation.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    So, does subsidisation distort economies????

    I may be correct in my assumptions of subsidisation and the effects it has.

    I have empathy for the workers that poor leadership prevails with the auto manufacturers, UAW and governments.

    Who do they have that can give true and honest representation?

    The corporations? The UAW? The government?

    Just remove all of these artificial aids propping up industry. Remove the UAW and let business flourish.

  • avatar
    udman

    What is lost in this conversation is the fact that IG Metall (The German Union that unionizes both White Collar and Blue Collar Professionals in the metalworks trades) pushed for the representation, but they had to go through the arbitration process with the UAW, as they are not set up here to represent anyone…

    However, if this is successful (in a right to work state no less) then IG Metall will exert their considerable pressure on both BMW and Mercedes-Benz to put similar representatives in place at their US Plants. That means that this could play out in both South Carolina, and Alabama in the not too distant future.

    I really can’t take politics off the table, but there are things taking shape that I would have never ever thought would happen here in the US, from legalized selling of POT, to same-sex marriage, so having unionized representation in the deep south really isn’t that far fetched any longer…

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Unionization is going to run into trouble as long as southern workers have the right to work at a company without joining any union (i.e. right-to-work laws).

      Those right-to-work laws are consistent with other freedom/libertarian leaning movements like freedom to contract in marriage and marijuana legalization/decriminalization.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    The good people of Tennessee get to pay the highest sales tax in the country to help pay VW its $577 million. Its pretty doubtful that tax receipts created by VW would overtake that subsidy anytime soon, if ever, so yes, the Tennesseans get to help pay for the VWs the rest of us might buy.

  • avatar
    VCplayer

    Do we really need all of the commenting about the red hats verses the blue hats? The UAW has chosen to conduct itself in a certain manner in the political arena and has faced benefits and consequences for that decision. That’s just the way politics work. No one has to like it, but let’s not pretend like there’s good guys and bad guys here.

    Some issues:

    1) Tennessee can withhold further incentives from VW if it wants to. It might not be legal to threaten that, but good luck forcing the state to pass legislation. Even if challenged in court, Tennessee will pay fines at the worst—the courts are not going to force the state to pass a subside law.

    2) Someone at VW was asleep at the wheel not to consider the political consequences. Not only are they now under threat in Tennessee, future deals with other states might be hard to come by for VW.

    3) The Tennessee legislators are supposed to represent those that elected them. You can argue if you want that killing the subsidies is a poor economic idea (maybe it is, I sure don’t know), but the goal of democracy is not the best possible outcome, it’s the outcome that most people can live with. If Tennessee voters don’t want the UAW in the plant, politicians are supposed to represent these views or suffer the consequences.

    4) Laws governing unions in the US are probably in bad need of some modernization, but there is way too much intransigence on both sides for that to happen anytime soon. The council that VW seems to want is the victim of that. Hey, life isn’t perfect.

    5) The UAW has such a bad reputation in the south that I will be surprised if the workers vote in favor of it.

    6) Speaking of the workers they are getting kind of a raw deal, but I don’t know if anyone should shed a tear for them. They have good jobs, no state income tax, and management seems to care about their welfare and opinions. They should be able to form a Worker’s Council without the UAW even being an issue, but they’ll live and keep their jobs without it.

  • avatar
    Bob

    Does anyone know what demands the union has? What will the new union contract be like? What are the employees paid now? Do they have a retirement plan and good health insurance? Do they make a living wage? So many people are against unions, but these auto workers want dignity just like you. A low level assembly line worker would have no chance negotiating a living wage and decent benefits by themselves which is why they need to collectively bargain. Why is this even a debate? Let the workers vote and thats the end of it, they are not going to make $70 an hour and cripple VW, the probably just want a decent wage and decent benefits or maybe they are happy with no union, just vote on it already.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Nobody in the US gets a retirement plan, other than tax deferred savings, except for lazy, corrupt government workers. The south and California have been smart enough to start moving government employees to 401 (k) progrms. They make a lot of money for the Tennessee area and get health insurance. If it is not enough money they can always quit. Since you favor the workers forming a cartel do you also favor VW forming a cartel with GM, Ford and Toyota and other automakers to set price floors and ensure profit?

  • avatar
    activeaero

    The reason the states lawmakers are so upset is that this isn’t simply a matter of worker choice. The UAW is set up in the VW HR offices (which are adorned with huge pro UAW signage) while anti-union voices have to wait by the front gates and grab employees coming and going. VW is very clear that they are pro union here. That stance wasn’t clear to Tennessee lawmakers when they helped subsidize the construction of the plant.

    There is only one narrative the workers are hearing. If you want the SUV, you better bring in the union. There was an article in the Chattanooga Free Press that stated VW and the UAW have already agreed that wages will not be up for negotiation but of course dues paying would start immediately.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “There was an article in the Chattanooga Free Press that stated VW and the UAW have already agreed that wages will not be up for negotiation but of course dues paying would start immediately.”

      Sounds like zero incentive for the workers. Cui bono?

  • avatar
    Atum

    Before I made my commenting account, I remember reading that shocking post about Bertel being kicked out and the “New TTAC” coming along. Though all of us have our beliefs, the article stated that there would be no controversial pieces.

    Seven months later. Proven wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      VCplayer

      I think the point was that they were going to try to avoid articles that were just obvious click bait intended to get readers riled up about politics. The auto business involves a lot of money and politics, you can’t write about the industry without having to involve politics on occasion

      Anyways, I really don’t see this article as intentional political bait, even if some commenters have said some silly things. The UAW has been a topic of conversation from the beginning of TTAC, and the situation in Chattanooga has been followed by TTAC fairly closely. The unionization of a southern transplant is a story that TTAC should be covering, and political maneuverings around the issue count as well.

      If people want to be mad about Republicans/Democrats that isn’t TTAC’s fault, they’re just reporting the news.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      While I have particular views on this issue TTAC has provided evenhanded, unbiased coverage.

      Look up some of Bertel’s old posts on the VW and the UAW if you want to see the night-and-day difference.

      Do you just not want any automotive coverage at all? The back-and-forth in the these comments is actually a lot more civil then when the new mid-size GM pickups are covered. Those are controversial pieces.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      It’s a bit like saying that the press should avoid covering Syria and Iraq because war is icky.

      This is a fairly important automotive industry story, and it should not be ignored by any source that claims to blog about or report on the business.

      • 0 avatar
        Atum

        I think you brought up the point the best. I personally have said my views on unions before, and to prevent another rile-up, I refrained from saying anything about them on this highly heated and commented post.

        If the article was called “UAW is the Greatest Organization in the World and the Leader Shall Be Worshiped,” I’d be upset, and that would be upsetting for most of the other commenting people.

        This, however, says that the UAW could completely bring down a plant that produces one of America’s most popular vehicles. I understand what you, Racer, and VC mean, and I now agree. Thank you.


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