By on February 20, 2014

volkswagen-chattanooga-solar-park-08 (1)

Should Volkswagen’s workers in Chattanooga, Tenn. not be allowed to unionize — with or without the United Auto Workers — the automaker’s works council may veto any plan to expand VW’s presence in the Southeastern United States.

Reuters reports VW Works Council head and supervisory board member Bernd Osterloh said his council would be wary to vote on expansion “if co-determination isn’t guaranteed in the first place”:

I can imagine fairly well that another VW factory in the United States, provided that one more should still be set up there, does not necessarily have to be assigned to the south again.

The recent UAW vote in VW’s Chattanooga plant failed by a close margin under anti-union campaigns led by Tennessee conservative politicians such as U.S. Senator and former Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker, whose comments regarding the automaker awarding the factory a mid-size SUV upon rejection of the UAW brought President Barack Obama into the fray.

In spite of the voting results, the works council will press forward in bringing about organization to the factory, one of the few VW factories in the world without the labor relations structure.

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122 Comments on “VW Works Council May Block New Southern U.S. Expansion Without Unionization...”


  • avatar
    psychoboy

    So, a union is threatening to limit the expansion of their workers’ employer, and possibly injure the financial well-being of said company because they don’t like the decisions of non-union labor?

    I thought the Euro-style unions were supposed to be different than the American style.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      Actually, I read they made that known before the vote – that they would oppose expansion if the UAW didn’t win – but is it clear they have that power? Or will they just make it unpleasant for management?

      Seems there was a lot of collusion beforehand between the German union and the UAW and the management. Further, Merkel leaned on VW management to promote the union because of her domestic situation.

      The expedited vote – something like 9 days from the request – and the fact that only the UAW was allowed in the plant to campaign were also unusual and designed to seal a UAW win.

      It just makes the UAW loss all the more heroic.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        This. So…for all the towel crying King has been doing about Corker, the Works Council doubled down on the insider advantage for the UAW?

        Sorry Bob – it’s you.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      So much for democracy. Down with the NLRA!

    • 0 avatar

      > So, a union is threatening to limit the expansion of their workers’ employer, and possibly injure the financial well-being of said company because they don’t like the decisions of non-union labor? I thought the Euro-style unions were supposed to be different than the American style.

      I would assume they want to maintain German labor relations at american VW plants, instead of getting the kind of ‘Merican labor relations you see here on these pages.

      The way conservatism acts in this country, it’s indicative of a serf mentality they would willingly work under themselves.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      The GErman union / works council is not cocnerned about the US workers. Their reason is that US worker union membership will make VW US production more expesnvie, making VW to shift more production ( or leaving in) Germany. the german unions basically want US production more expensive for VW so that German production seems more favorable.

      Union members don’t give a damn about other workers. they happily buy chinese-made TVs in private, while forcing legislators to barr foreign products that their specific workplace makes. If I’m a steel worker, I want my government to have free trade for everything but steel. If I’m a wood worker, i wnat my government to have free trade for everything but wood etc.

  • avatar
    redav

    VW has a plant where the workers have voted to say that they are happy with VW, they pose little to no threat to strike, are working for reasonable/fair wages & benefits, and VW is so unhappy with the situation that they wouldn’t do it again?

    Let’s dig a bit deeper into that side of the coin.

  • avatar
    activeaero

    Why did VW think that unions would work in the American South? Didn’t they do their homework?

    Unless they thought they could build one line in America, get the glory for building in America and be the Trojan horse that unionized all of their transplant competitors making their Mexican operations that much more cost effective. Smart, eh?

    • 0 avatar
      psychoboy

      This message is coming from an IG guy, not a VW guy.

      IG is threatening to hamper VW if the southern US workforce maintains their anti-UAW stance.

      I think VW specifically chose the location as the best middle of the road option.

      If it goes union, they have a strong relationship with IG to try to keep the UAW in check. if it goes non-union, they win. they posture as pro-union to keep IG happy, knowing the UAW will screw up the election anyway.

      if another union attempts to pick up where the UAW failed, VW and IG can easily beat them into submission.

      This might turn out to be the most brilliant move on VW’s part. they either win, or keep losses to a minimum.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        But what is the attraction of IG Metall to partnering with the UAW in a works council? Just about any established union could “sponsor” a local within the Chattanooga plant and meet the legal requirements to form a works council: the machinists’ union, the Teamsters, etc. Why is IG basically trying to help the UAW to survive?

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          My guess is because the UAW is the union of record in our country for the auto industry going another route would be seen as massively confrontational and news worthy.

          Also I’ve read (on ttac I believe) that IG already had a dialogue with the uaw because of the Opel connection.They probably thought it was a nice win win, but they probably also didn’t fully understand the level of political heat that the players involved would bring to the table.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Why do so many married people want their single friends to get married? Because they like their status, and feel that others who don’t have that same status are lacking something.

          The guys at IG Metall like unions; they like them so much that they belong to one. Why would you believe that union leaders wouldn’t like unions for other people, too?

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Honestly? They demand other plants in the VW universe organize because they don’t want to compete with more efficient and flexible labor elsewhere.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Some of you have difficulty understanding the concept that your worldview is not shared by everyone (or, for that matter, by much of the rest of the planet.)

            I think that it’s pretty safe to say that the leadership of IG Metall is pleased with the concept of organized labor. You don’t have to agree with them, but you’re a fool to believe that they aren’t genuine supporters of the concept.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Have a little self respect here. VW TN voted to remain free. IG Metal now wants to block them from receiving new product. That goes beyond wanting them to wear red arm bands in unity. This has moved their stance to inflicting repercussions for not joining them as adversaries to independent people, which is exactly what they’ve revealed themselves to be by this action.

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            CJinSD

            I think you are missing the point that VW doesn’t seem to see the union vs. non-union proposition the same way we do. Firstly, because joining a worker’s council is not a one-stroke implementation of the Big 3 labor contracts of the 70′s through 90′s (especially with the limited role the UAW was proposing the union hold.) Secondly, because the model works for VW worldwide and they certainly don’t seem to be suffering competitively at all for it (such as endemic striking or uncompetitive pricing.)

            I really don’t see how you can imply a competitive angle to this when no public statements support that view. Puebla is one of the company’s largest plants and they just got the Golf platform (the real export item) first so…I just don’t see who else the TN plant would be competing with.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            IG Metall wants the works council everywhere that it can get it.

            Again, you’re a fool not to think that the labor representatives on the works council don’t like unions or works councils. They don’t want the threat of people like you lording over them.

          • 0 avatar
            Loser

            “Why do so many married people want their single friends to get married?”

            Because misery loves company?

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            tedward,

            VW is a company with many factions holding different views and experiences. They didn’t come to a RTW state by accident, but now another faction has more influence. They were once the UAW transplant. Failure followed. UAW’s history isn’t as distant as you think. They were striking against Detroit right up to their collapse.

            Another important theme is that VW isn’t competitive in the US market. They tried to build cars the way they thought companies in the US succeed by doing so. They couldn’t achieve mass market appeal while containing costs. This may be why the proponents of TN production have lost their voice. That they’ve failed before with the UAW while so many others have thrived in the US without them should be enough to indicate that the UAW isn’t the solution to their problems, but organized labor is a pervasive force, and it is one that wins even if VW folds up tent in TN.

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            CJinSD

            Or it could have been the reportedly record setting incentive package that TN put together to attract the plant. Viewing it as just being union related is too narrow a view I think, especially since VW is effectively a “union” shop globally in the form of worker’s councils.

            I think they may have already avoided the PA mistakes by not taking on an existing workforce when they opened the plant. Remember all those articles TTAC used to post detailing their meet the standards or leave hiring processes in TN?

            I don’t see how TN is a failed factory either btw. The Passat sells in record numbers for VW.

          • 0 avatar

            > Viewing it as just being union related is too narrow a view I think, especially since VW is effectively a “union” shop globally in the form of worker’s councils.

            The assembly wage gaps here are at best a few percent of the total costs compared to the rest of the car. According to their owners no less VW’s sales in the US has almost nothing to do with that pittance compared to reliability that americans have come to expect. If VW can make a car that’s as carefree to own as a Honda, they’d easily command a similar market share.

            The real question is whether many have trouble grasping such basic observations because they can’t figure out proportions in math or they just parrot what they’re told without moving it through the grey stuff between the ears.

      • 0 avatar
        Joebaldheadedgranny

        Thanks for this excellent summation of the story. There is a lot of posturing going on here. It’s hard to be Switzerland when you are…Germany.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      They should move the plant to Chicago, Illinois. They’d have unions up the yazoo.

    • 0 avatar
      dartman

      The American South only became anti-union when the Democratic Party became the party of civil rights, integration etc. LBJ lamented that the Dems would lose the south for a generation as he ram-rodded civil rights legislation thru the congress he once tightly controlled. Republicans used race to convince the working class whites that there status would be lost as Blacks took their decent paying jobs. LBJ was right. Southern culture was a racist culture and still is albeit improving slowly with each generation. Racist whites would rather. Vote against their self-interest (union) than share a common goal with similar situated minorities. Only time and immigration will slowly erase this stain on American culture; why do you think the right is so anti–immigration. Full disclosure: 6th generation land grant Texan, 20 year resident of California.

      • 0 avatar
        Flivver

        Sorry, your 20 years in California have wiped out your 6 generations as a Texican.

        The Democratic party left the South, the South didn’t leave the party. The shift from R to D took off after the McGovernites took over the party machinery after 1968 and the party became more socialist and urban.

        Even in the land of Kumbaya, you should see that racism is alive and well. It is alive and nurtured now in places like Philly, PA and Boston, Mass as much, if not moreso, than it ever was in Philadelphia, MS.

        • 0 avatar

          Doesn’t matter whether you’re in the Deep South, West Coast or up North. Think of racism as a cancer that’s being worked on with neverending rounds of chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants. It’s working, but it’s painfully slow going and with plenty of setbacks.

          Sad to say, but it’s easy to convince a group of people to hate another group of people based on the fear that the latter are gonna drink the former’s milkshake. Keeping these two groups at each other’s throats lets a third group make off with all the milkshakes they could ever drink and then some.

        • 0 avatar
          dartman

          It’s “Texian” not “Texican”. And no, as part of the “Landed Gentry” my Texas Pedigree can never be erased; (well, at least as long as the royalty checks keep coming…).

          I don’t deny the existence of racism pretty much everywhere; it is just that it is much more deeply embedded in the south, along with ignorance and poverty. In regards to Republicans; not every Republican is a racist, but racists are almost always Republicans.

          Texas will be turning blue soon enough, and your example of Philadelphia, Mississippi, home of some of the most horrendous hate crimes during the civil rights era, shows that hope springs eternal as the fine citizens elected the first Black mayor in 2009–with Obama’s help, and no he wasn’t a republican.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    I think that they can get a works council if they can work around the Wagner Act or if another union – one without the baggage and reputation of the UAW – steps in.

    • 0 avatar
      Don Mynack

      I recommend the Journeymen Barbers, Hairdressers, Cosmetologists and Proprietors’ International Union of America step in. Problem is, they’ve been defunct since 1965.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    VW’s loss, I guess.

  • avatar
    brokeguy

    I think many of the B&B are so focused on the UAW that they are missing the big picture. VW wants to run their plants their way, that includes the VW works council. For better or worse, in this country if an automaker wants to organize such a thing, it must be in affiliation with a worker-organized and run union. The defacto autoworker’s union in this country is the UAW. If there was another union in the US that could have come in instead of the UAW in i’m sure VW would rather have dealt with them because of the stigma that UAW representation has in that region of the country. Now, since the defeat of the UAW, a represenative of the “home office” (since the union in germany has a seat on the board) rightly calls the whole enterprise into question because it appears to them that undue outside influence in the form of Sen. Corker and other conservative organizations has impeded VW’s wish to align it’s US assembly operations with those around the rest of the globe. They don’t like being told what to do any more than the good people in Chattanooga want “outsiders” interfering with their way of life. Unfortunately the workers are caught in the middle, and this vote could be the beginning of the end of VW production in the South. Interesting conundrum, or cluster*uck depending on your point of view. (Puts on flame suit, has a seat and opens a bag of popcorn)

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      Right there next to you. This is spot on. If VW workers don’t want to unionize, that’s their call, but the explicit threats made by local politicians, and the millions spent by national organizations with anti-UAW, anti-Obama etc. billboards opposing unionization, certainly give the Works Council grounds to wonder how much the thumb on the scale mattered to the final vote.

      • 0 avatar
        psychoboy

        as though millions weren’t spent by pro-union forces to tip the scale their way?

        what was the UAW offering the VW rank and file?

        • 0 avatar

          Detroit. UAW offered Detroit.

        • 0 avatar
          Astigmatism

          The UAW was offering the rank-and-file the opportunity to form a works council that would comply with the Taft-Hartley act – and in doing so they would have given up much of the control the “union” typically exerts to that local works council.

          Maybe that wasn’t a good enough reason to vote for the union, but it’s fair to wonder how much the legislative threats and millions shoveled into the anti-UAW campaign affected the outcome.

          • 0 avatar
            Lichtronamo

            There certainly was a vigorous opposition to the UAW vote. But the UAW’s own time and efforts were certainly equal in trying to persuade the VW employees to vote for the union. An VW’s neutral stance on the matter and even accommodations (such as allowing the UAW into the facility for presentations to employees) more than evens the scales. This was a bad loss for the UAW that can’t be attributed only to a vast right-wing conspiracy.

          • 0 avatar
            BigOlds

            Brokeguy,

            Agree completely. I think one can legitimately debate pros and cons of unions in general and the UAW in particular. However, if it is acceptable for “outsiders” to voice their opinions and exert influence (ala Corker) then it is equally so for IG Metal and VW corporate. It is VW’s plant, and IG is a board member of VW. They have a vested interest and a right to operate their business as they see fit.

            Ultimately the choice to unionize or not is up to the workers. If I ran the universe we would only allow those with vested interest (owners, workers, etc) to plead their case pro or con, and everyone else (senators, unions not directly involvd) would have to stay the hell out of it.

          • 0 avatar
            Astigmatism

            @Lichtronamo

            “This was a bad loss for the UAW that can’t be attributed only to a vast right-wing conspiracy.”

            You are 100% correct. Still, VW has a way of doing things that’s worked for them (and their workers) in the past, and from IG Metall’s perspective, it would only make sense to push for future growth in places that are not likely to foment millions of dollars in outside opposition to, and immense political pressure against, that way of doing things.

  • avatar
    carguy

    VW workers were right not to trust the UAW to represent their interests. However, there is nothing stopping them from forming their own works council independent of the UAW – one that would be more in line with regional values.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Disclaimer: I am not well read on union issues.

      Doesn’t some type of US legislation prevent the formation of a German style works council? I am sure I have read that in relation to this story.

      Could someone please clarify this?

      • 0 avatar
        psychoboy

        any group of workers could unify and operate as the UAW would like to.

        the law prohibits VW from creating that union, or significantly influencing it. (the euro version allows and wants a co-operative partnership between the sides)

        the law is designed to force management and labor to be on opposite sides of the table. in days of yore, management was oppressive and powerful…so unions became oppressive and powerful. in today’s world, management has reason to keep their oppresiveness to a minimum, so workers don’t necessarily need a powerful union.

        If the pro-union workers of that plant wanted to unionize, elect a head rep, and have that guy speak on their behalf to plant management…they could. being in a RTW state, they cannot demand all workers pay dues, so the union would be funded by the ~45% of the people who voted for the union. this assumes, of course, that those pro-union voters would actually pay dues to a union that was charged with standing up to a management that wasn’t really wanting to screw them.

        as noted all throughout this discussion….the UAW wasn’t offering much to the generally happy VW worker. If VW started crapping on the workers, you’d likely see the pro-union support jump….maybe even enough to let the UAW have another crack at it.

  • avatar
    mvlbr

    This is all just a load of bull because in reality VW does not want to make the SUV in the U.S. They would rather make it in Mexico for the cheaper labor and the fact that Mexico has treaties with other countries that they can export to.

  • avatar
    mu_redskin

    UAW was ready to declare union representation via card check. They had enough signatures by card check but were forced to go for a vote. So what happened between the card check and the vote? Sen. Corker happened…

    • 0 avatar
      alsorl

      Yes I don’t see how it was legal for corker or any government official to manipulate a union vote. Government corker did what he said the UAW has been doing. Do as I say. But not as I do !

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Weimer

        Corker (and others) voiced his opinion, he didn’t “manipulate” the vote, merely influenced it. As is his and your and my right. Do you think that only the UAW and forces in favor should have a say?

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Card check is not the same thing as a secret ballot. Card check is a bunch of thugs singling you out from the herd so they can put a face and a name to anyone that opposes them.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        http://www.scribd.com/doc/208283498/Union-Cert-Voting-cardcheck

        Except that as pointed out most issues with the ‘secret ballot’ is that it isn’t particularly secret and the length of time between signing the cards and the vote helps dictate the chance of success. The paper I posted is from Canada but with such a similar market and principles it should be relevant to anybody willing to read and thus understand why conservatives fear card check and are desperate at any cost to stop it. It would amount to the wealthiest businesses facing more unionization and thus cutting into their overstuffed bottom line.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      There have been several instances of the UAW supposedly securing a card check majority at other plants, but then ultimately failing the vote. Why is that the case? Perhaps the intimidation factor to sign a card face to face with union reps causes people to indicate differently than they’d actually vote in secret.

    • 0 avatar
      SpinnyD

      Maybe Tennesseans just have long memories of the UAW due to past experience? It’s not like it’s Tennessee’s first UAW plant.

      http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1842&dat=19920517&id=g0weAAAAIBAJ&sjid=MscEAAAAIBAJ&pg=1340,2480974

  • avatar

    The attempts to blame some Republican legislators for the utter failure of UAW are rather funny. As if it’s Republican legislators that ruled over Detroit until nothing was left standing.

    Here’s what Megan McArdle wrote about this (an Obama voter BTW):

    “You’d think that now, at a time of great economic insecurity, a union drive would have a lot of appeal. But perhaps that worked against it. The jobs at Volkswagen pay better wages than most in the area. The workers don’t want to risk losing them. And there’s one thing we all know now: Even the mighty UAW can’t guarantee you a job.”

  • avatar
    alsorl

    Its amazing to me how our government officials do not want the workers at a VW plant to not make more money. I don’t see how its any of the ex Governors business on how, why, or if the employees wanted to form a union. They managed to manipulate the employees of a private company in there union vote by threatening to keep the company from expanding. How is it legal for Corker or any government office to threaten a private company.

    • 0 avatar
      Lichtronamo

      The UAW was specifically not promising more money – they had pledged to be neutral in wage negotiations. This was one of their problems in that the several VW employees that spoke as having voted against the UAW did so because they currently are paid more than the Tier-2 workers for GM, Ford and FCA.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      How about Politics 101. Bob Corker, now Tennessee senator but former mayor of Cbattanooga and reportedly the moving force behind all of the state subsidies that landed the plant there rather than somewhere else, is a Republican.

      Unions shovel tons of money to elect Democrats. So, what kind of an idiot would Corker, or any other Republican politician who was instrumental in getting this plant — and the jobs that came with it — come to Tennessee sit by and not point out — as he did — that the state was very unlikely to grant any more subsidies to a UAW-organized VW plant.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        This kind of partisanship always interests me. So lets assume for the moment you’re a conservative republican (because after saying that odds on you are). Now you just handed over 500 million dollars for 1500 jobs or roughly 333K per worker or the value of that worker for about 7-9 years. Now VW has made it clear they’re willing to stick with this plant and because they have a strong pro-labor board that wouldn’t let them close down that plant regardless of the UAW succeeding you step in and press hard to prevent the workers from capitulating with management and possibly making more money (not necessarily immediately but will increase faster than inflation).

        Now, as a solid conservative why does it make more sense to hand another 100-200 Million dollars to VW to upgrade the plant versus the UAW winning and more money eventually gets put into the tax coffers of the state? The whole argument becomes one of the big picture now doesn’t it? Republicans and ‘conservatives’ have been using the strength of their weak-labor and weak-regulations to court businesses into the area that pay sub-standard wages (but more than the depressed area makes) and pollute the area in the name of ‘business’ all the while handing out massive subsidies so that the south in effect loses money on each business built there while drawing money from the Federal level to cover their own shortcomings.

        It all seems to become a bit of a boondoggle if you really believe in laissez-faire economics unless you’re actually just an opposition player and simply counter anything your political opponent wants. Willingly throwing away the baby, the bathwater, and the house to keep your opponent from getting a single advantage.

        • 0 avatar

          > Republicans and ‘conservatives’ have been using the strength of their weak-labor and weak-regulations to court businesses into the area that pay sub-standard wages (but more than the depressed area makes) and pollute the area in the name of ‘business’ all the while handing out massive subsidies so that the south in effect loses money on each business built there while drawing money from the Federal level to cover their own shortcomings.

          This really bears repeating in the context of the rather comical “accusations” that liberals take from the rich and give to the poor, when their alternative in action is to take from the taxpayers to give to the rich. That and take from everyone elsewhere to give to themselves, but don’t mind them because gays, illegals, and unions.

          Not everyone has to love the liberal agenda, but it really takes a moron to not despise American conservatism.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    The press is a collective fool if they really continue to report this as if all this is one great big surprise to VW. I’m pretty sure VW gave all this a LOT of thought before investing a $1billion in Chattanooga.

    As for Osterloh’s comments….he had to say SOMETHING or he’d have looked like a weakling. So the press took the bait.

  • avatar
    tedward

    This is kind of fun at this point.

    Anti union Americans are having a hard time understanding how a manufacturer could want worker representation in any way shape or manner, an assumption I find disturbing actually. On the other end of the spectrum the pro labor folks are having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that what VW wants has nothing to do with the UAW and the political alliances that implies, and is actually an entirely different way of doing business. I don’t get the impression that VW’s definition of auto union would satisfy either of our tribal alliances.

    In short it’s really interesting watching everyone pack weird misconceptions into their responses because they can’t imagine a world where all auto unions aren’t in fact the UAW or one where all manufacturers don’t see themselves as existentially threatened by the concept of organized labor negotiations.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Therein lies the problem for the UAW. Many of the interviewed “no” workers weren’t against a Works Council. It was a vote against the UAW.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        Dave M.
        Thanks for pointing that out.

        The irony is that the anti-union folks are missing a messaging opportunity here by insisting that there must be a big battle between VW management and VW labor and that only the labor side could possibly want the council. There is no evidence for that so far first of all, but also it makes the UAW’s loss all the more significant if management wasn’t even opposed behind the scenes. They should be crowing about how even when both sides want representation the UAW still manages to lose a worker vote based on their own reputation as a negotiating partner.

        • 0 avatar
          Lichtronamo

          It would be interesting to see if the VW employees organized under a union other than the UAW how the vote would go as I agree that there were a lot of comments by the employees, and by VW, that it was not a vote against a works council.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    Can’t we just be honest and call a spade a spade. This has nothing to do with the German Union fearing the workers at a US plant are being exploited, this all about a non-union plant making the rest of them look bad.

    So now a Union is willing to try and purposely hurt the workers at an American plant financially because they won’t join a union that supposedly is there to protect their financial well-being.

    Meanwhile, UAW plants continue with their 2-tier wage system for new workers.

    Animal Farm. All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Where is Walter Reuther, when one needs him the most?

    Now seriously…I don’t think this will be the end of it. This battle will definitively escalate into a war.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Perhaps any new VW plants in the US will be in a more union friendly state then…like maybe Pennsylvania?

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      I hear there’s space available in Westmoreland….

      • 0 avatar
        alsorl

        VW could always go to Detroit. Lots of land, people looking for work. And probably the most tax incentives out of every state.

        • 0 avatar
          Lichtronamo

          VW considered building this facility in Michigan but decided on Tennessee instead.

          • 0 avatar
            Joe McKinney

            When the VW reps went to Michigan in 2008 to meet with Governor Granholm, the media was full of stories about the UAW strikes at GM and American Axle.

            I don’t know how much Tennesse ponied up to get their VW plant, but I do know that Alabama pulled out all the stops and our former governor Bob Riley was shocked when the plant went to Tennessee.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            $577 million all told between local, state, and feds.

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

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The sites Granholm’s team proposed for VW were HORRIBLE. One was in Northern Michigan and another was north of Grand Rapids. The dollars were very competitive, and Oakland County owned a automotibe factory at the time. However, Jennifer Granholn did not get along with L Brooks Patterson, the Oakland Couty executive. Patterson could have put a better package together than the Southern states. Oakland County and Wayne County don’t play well together.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The Michigan proposal was over $500 million.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @bball

            Why don’t they play well?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Its the 8 mile border thing. There have been all kinds of political issues, like cross district busing, the water system, two seperate transit systems, etc. Its almost a Oakland County vs Wayne County vs Detroit thing around here. Everyone is fighting for the same piece of pie. Granholm, who worked for Wayne County, has blamed Patterson for the divide between the city and suburbs for years.

          • 0 avatar
            Joe McKinney

            I just did some checking on Alabama’s proposal. They had a nice site in Huntsville, but they were only offering $385 million in incentives. Volkswagen did like the location, but the bid wasn’t even close to Tennessee’s offer.

            I am sure Governor Riley and his team thought they had a winning proposal. What they offered VW was much more generous than the $253 million in incentives Alabama paid to get the Montgomery Hyundai plant in 2002.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            28-

            At another time, perhaps over a Founders Porter (which I probably will be drinking this weekend at the Michigan Fall Beer Festival), I could tell a wonderful, probably true story about a place called the Manoogian Mansion. It is a place that ties state Attorney Generals, Mayors current and past, County Execs, and more together.

        • 0 avatar
          alsorl

          Well Michigan’s governor Rick Snyder needs to jump on this and offer VW some options for an additional plant in North America.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Like I’ve stated in most situations the institution comes first.

    I appears so here. Does the union want the blue collar work?

    It only appears so when it’s in control.

    Unionism is unionism globally.

    They will screw a company over to gain an advantage at the cost of countries, business and especially those they state they care for.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    So we have UAW intimidating employees, and IG metall saying no new products if the plant doesn’t support their ideals…

    Yet the lawmakers are the bad guys because they didnt originally agree to fund something that would be counterproductive to their state?
    How can anyone possibly redicule Tennessee for protecting their interests?

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      Meh. The lawmakers in question are just chiming in because they think unions might donate to their political opponents. Jobs are just jobs and should be encouraged regardless of personal political goals for local politicians.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        If only it were so simple. The particular organization trying to come in is effectively a fundraising arm of their opponent. Not donate too, not sympathetic too, exclusive fundraising arm of said opponent. But you won’t be told this information in MSM. A smart organization uses its funds to play one side off the other when/where it benefits them as many do, this one does no such thing.

        http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=d000000070

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          28 cars

          Oh I totally agree. It’s a major strategic mistake to be one party affiliated when you are supposed to be an issue advocate. the NRA has been making the same exact mistake for a long time now and it’s doing them no favors either.

          It’s still poor public service in the extreme however for the politicians involved. Personal and party affiliations do not trump welfare of constituents under any circumstances. I personally could never vote for a pol of party who took a stance on those grounds, no matter how trivial.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The Republican party has been opposed to labor organizing since the late 19th century.

            The position against union labor is one issue around which the industrial, libertarian and Christian Right/social conservative wings of the party are united.

            There is no sound political reason for the unions to donate to this group. This dynamic is not going to change in the foreseeable future.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Given the events of the 19th century, I agree the GOP of the day opposed organization and I’m sure for two generations after the political divide remained. However this is a list of top 156 political donors ’89-’14, and while GOP contributions are indeed small several national unions did contribute 1% or more, inc Carpenters & Joiners Union (9%), SEIU (2%), Natl Assoc of Letter Carriers (9%), and Teamsters (5%). The three which jump out at me as unions representing failed industries are UAW, AFT, and United Steelworkers all at 0%.

            https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            “The Republican party has been opposed to labor organizing since the late 19th century.”

            That is because unions were racist organizations well into the 20th century. You can ask Rahm Emanuel, if you don’t believe me.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The fact remains that playing both sides won’t help the unions, as is the case with most other groups.

            The GOP is a natural, longstanding opponent, and there are only limited instances when it pays for organized labor to funnel money toward Republican causes. If the GOP wants union money, then it is going to need to change its tune and stop using labor as a wedge issue.

          • 0 avatar

            > It’s a major strategic mistake to be one party affiliated when you are supposed to be an issue advocate.

            Not really when corporate money (which is most of it) is in principle against unionization. When you’re faced with a stronger opponent who butters up both sides it’s foolish to do the same since you lose equally no matter who wins. Better to throw all your resources (votes, etc) at one to the exclusion of the other and get max possible results half the time.

          • 0 avatar

            > That is because unions were racist organizations well into the 20th century.

            The whole country was pretty racist well into the 20th century. The difference is who chooses to continue that tradition. Probably the guys whose constituents all look and sound like Rush Limbaugh.

          • 0 avatar

            > the NRA has been making the same exact mistake for a long time now and it’s doing them no favors either.

            Since we’re on the topic of lobby efficacy, the NRA is an interesting case. Their new money comes from manufacturers, who benefit when D wins can be consistently used to scare hillbillies into stocking up. Yet at the same time, this needs to be tempered against getting regulated out of existence altogether. Logic would dictate they alternate contributions between cycles, though this may not be politically palatable.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “Not really when corporate money (which is most of it) is in principle against unionization.”

            That might be true but its a generalization. In the reference I posted of the top 10 contributors only two are clearcut corporations, AT&T and Goldman Sachs. Both corporations nearly split their donations between the major parties with AT&T leaning GOP 57% to 43% and Goldman Sachs Democratic 53% to 44% (I’m not sure who Natl Assoc of Realtors really represents, but their contribs are GOP 47% to 44%). Maybe Pch101 and you a point about ideology and placing your bets for the most return, but ironically it is nearly only ideological organizations who donate heavily to the Democrats (unions or political funds) as the nearest non union or political group is #36 Time Warner. Sure the GOP has their own ideologues in the NRA, Koch bros and the like, but they also have major apolitical donors as well (CSX, Union Pacific, Fedex). Ironic since only 11.9% of male (10.5% female) workers in the US belong to organizations which make up six of the top ten donors of all time from 1989-2014 and all of whom where either exclusively or near exclusively Democratic donors.

            http://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.nr0.htm

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            pch101 and agentex

            I see your guys point re: single party lobbying. Let me counter propose that party purity has a very poor track record in the face of organized money. How many Democrats get peeled away by the coal lobby for instance? Or members of both parties when it comes to the financial sector? Organized labor has a bit more uphill to overcome because of the echo chamber effect though.

          • 0 avatar

            > In the reference I posted of the top 10 contributors only two are clearcut corporations, AT&T and Goldman Sachs.

            The difference is that union contributions tend to be more concentrated. If you do the sums further down the list the disparity will become more clear. There are a lot more corps than there are unions.

            > Sure the GOP has their own ideologues in the NRA, Koch bros and the like, but they also have major apolitical donors as well

            The political divisions here are perhaps not obvious. When a corp donates, it’s in the interests of shareholders, the folks who prefer lower wage (of course they have many other interests, but a lot of operating expenses are on humans). So in the realm of wage politics, these aren’t necessarily apolitical.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “Let me counter propose that party purity has a very poor track record in the face of organized money.”

            I’m not really sure what that means in this context.

            Let’s put this another way — if the UAW starts throwing cash at the Republicans, what is it going to get in return?

            Will it win influence? No. The other donors to the GOP who oppose them outnumber them.

            Will it tone down the rhetoric? No. The GOP uses unions as a wedge issue, as it helps to unify their base.

            Will it lead to more compromise? No. Republicans take a certain pride in not compromising. (They refer to it as being “principled.” Of course, that doesn’t prevent them from demanding “compromise” from the opposing side when they fail to get their way.)

            The UAW would be better off lighting the money on fire than giving it to the GOP. And if a GOP politician was smart, he would announce to the world that he is returning the cash (which would provide publicity and other donations worth far more than anything that the UAW could provide.)

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree there are more corps than unions, really to have more clear cut data one would have to add all 156 up and break down the figures by percentage (which I am not doing :). While this data does not show I would be curious the percentage of individual donations per party vs unions, corps, and political action groups.

            I also agree political motivations of corporate donors are not immediately apparent. The only common thread of all of these groups is they are trying to buy politicians to push their agendas. Whether these agendas are to economically oppress people (or not) isn’t particularly relevant, its more the problem our gov’t is for sale to the highest bidder(s).

          • 0 avatar

            > Whether these agendas are to economically oppress people (or not) isn’t particularly relevant, its more the problem our gov’t is for sale to the highest bidder(s).

            This is a more pressing problem than most realize. The whole idea of democracy is that political power should be spread out among many instead of traded for things (ie money, land) which can accumulate in hands of a few.

            We can have a debate on whether democracy is a good thing or not, but selling influence is basically subverting that discussion when people aren’t paying attention. This is why Citizens United portends poorly for things to come.

            Also be cautious with “equal blame”; sometimes you have to play even if the game is rigged against you because the results matter, not because it’s the right thing to do.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            First off, Pch101, damn you for beating me to it! Damn you! So, the ‘GOP’ is the split party between the Roosevelt progressives and the stalwart conservatives. All the nationally-loved Republicans (Lincoln, Roosevelt, a few others…) are from the Roosevelt progressive wing. The remaining party that we know today has been completely pro-business. They’re wholly uninterested in unions and have fought actively to deny people the right to unionize. Basically the entire US conservative movement has always hinged on fighting to keep businesses rich and a relatively large underclass. But that’s just history….

            As for CJinSD, congrats, you found the magic racist button. Do you really want to press it? I would suggest you don’t press it. Oh…you pressed it. So, labor unions had a race problem, well so did most of America. The Republicans in particular had a serious race problem from the end of Roosevelt progressive era. They were largely race neutral until after WWII when blacks turned from 70/30 democrats to 90/10 because legislation was being brought by democratic lawmakers to their aid. In the end the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 were supported by Democrats with some moderate and liberal republicans in the Northeast putting them over. Then in the 1968 presidential election Nixon used those to his advantage and pulled conservative democrats in the South to the Republican Party. So all those Jim Crow conservative Democrats by 1972-1976 were Jim Crow Conservative Republicans and have continued to be so. So lets not try and put the onus on why Republicans dislike unions on some sort of racial issue. The post-modern Republican party has had part and parcel to support racist agendas.

            You listed ‘AFT’ as part of a failed industry. Last time I checked that was the American Federation of Teachers and teachers are not a ‘failed industry’ as if you ever bother to read any study of depth on education you would find out these non-union charter and private schools have extremely high failure rates and continuous turnover problems. In fact the biggest issue with the US public school system is that individual districts are rich but most districts are not. The money we pay per student is some of the lowest in the industrialized world and the best educated countries have teacher starting pay in the 50K region making it an actual desirable job for the educated classes to take.

            As an aside, which is kind of important when discussing this the list 28 posted only counts those with non-super PAC status. When you count Super PACs the rough numbers are about 2 to 1 in favor of conservatives though that didn’t really help them in the last presidential election.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Teaching isn’t a failed industry. Teachers are fat and happy. Education is the failed industry.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Does anything that comes out of your head make sense, CJ? Like if I make a rational and logical statement your answer is that teachers are somehow overpaid for their work when study after study proves that teachers are underpaid for their degrees…

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            People aren’t entitled to a single nickel on the strength of having a college degree. They should be paid on the value they create. Union teachers run idiot factories. They should be charged for the privilege of creating the raw materials required for the political outcomes their mentors desire.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            CJ better elaborated on my point as public education is a failed industry, soon to be followed by the higher education industry.

            “non-union charter and private schools have extremely high failure rates and continuous turnover problems.”

            Citation?

            Easy to keep staff retention rates up when you are given a permanent job with no accountability where no one is ever fired or otherwise removed.

            “the standardized percentage of teachers in the United States who lost their jobs due to poor performance via the non-renewal of nontenured teachers (.7%) was half of that for the termination of tenured teachers (1.4%).”

            http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/teachers/the-myth-of-teacher-tenure.html

            There is a reason the uber-rich send their children to private schools and academies, I sincerely doubt this would be the case if the dropout rate exceeded the national average.

            https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=16

            “study proves that teachers are underpaid for their degrees…”

            Citation? Link?

          • 0 avatar

            > There is a reason the uber-rich send their children to private schools and academies, I sincerely doubt this would be the case if the dropout rate exceeded the national average.

            It’s really not very difficult to research & conclude that general charter schools are far less successful than their proponents claim them to be, and more worryingly less successful than pulling out the kids of more involved parents would suggest. These aren’t the same kind of academies where the rich send their offspring; those aren’t successful just because they have private in the label.

          • 0 avatar

            > Does anything that comes out of your head make sense, CJ? Like if I make a rational and logical statement your answer is that teachers are somehow overpaid for their work when study after study proves that teachers are underpaid for their degrees…

            CJinSD appears little more than a proselytizing account. I touched on those here:

            http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/australian-supplier-association-warns-of-33000-jobs-lost-in-wake-of-producer-exits/#comment-2793505

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            I’m going to be honest 28, you’re starting to look bad as you start demanding more citations and I keep giving them. I decided it was worth my trouble just to prove my point and honestly it was a light work week…

            http://www.plunderbund.com/2013/08/24/new-state-report-card-proves-ohios-charter-school-experiment-has-failed/

            It is a distilled version of what the actual report card says (which is searchable but essentially proves my original point).

            http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/EMO-profiles-10-11

            That report notes only 27% of charter schools made adequate Year to Year progress, 48% for physical private charters, and 50% for public. Since these virtual charters are becoming the more preferable route that seems to indicate further issues.

            http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/12/10/v-fullstory/2541157/how-some-states-rein-in-charter.html#ixzz1gGeXiaKb

            Florida has a 24% charter failure rate. 12% is the national average. That is extremely high for a place that is guaranteed a funding source.

            http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-schools-insider/post/charter-board-has-spent-1-million-to-close-failed-schools/2012/04/26/gIQAGL58iT_blog.html

            1 Million dollars spent to wrap up failed charter schools.

            http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/teachers-salaries_teachsal-table-en

            Raw data on pay.

            http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/teacher-pay-around-the-world/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

            A better explanation than the raw data suggests.

            But an even better understanding….

            http://www1.salary.com/Chemical-Engineer-I-Salary.html

            So a high school chemistry teacher on average makes 10K less than a starting chemical engineer.

            http://www1.salary.com/Accountant-III-Salary.html

            Math Teacher makes 22K less than an accountant with similar time in (assuming 15 years of service).

            Since history and english have less correlations in the private market lets use some basic positions.

            http://www1.salary.com/Clerical-Supervisor-II-Salary.html

            Mid-level supervisor – 7K

            http://www1.salary.com/Account-Executive-Home-Care-Salary.html

            account executive – 14K

            http://www1.salary.com/Bookstore-Director-Higher-Ed-Salary.html

            College Bookstore ‘Director’ (i.e. top management) – 15K

            All of these were based off of maximum average earned income. So while the starting salaries of teachers to these similar positions is closer the long-term is that these positions pull away from from the Teacher’s average in the long-term.

            Now lets address your serious assumption of how easy it is to keep your job as a teacher. The reality of being fired for gross incompetence is really overblown. It’s practically a myth in the respect of most corporations. The report below shows collective quits, firings, and layoffs. The issue is it doesn’t show who was fired versus laid off (or fired in effect being laid off) but we can safely assume that the relationship of hiring means that even if these people were fired for gross negligence they were still competent enough to acquire another job and probably in the same or similar field.

            http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/jolts.pdf

            So now that I’ve done that and wrote a semi-treatise on this, I think if you’re not satisfied you’re simply holding your biases even harder. Try being a teacher for a time before wailing and gnashing your teeth, you’ll be surprised.

        • 0 avatar
          alsorl

          CJ. unions are racist organizations ? Bahahaha
          Someone is drinking to much tea.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    If VW doesn’t start building products North American consumers actually want, at a quality level they expect, with content and materials that are class competitive, and pricing them properly (up or down depending on the product) they have way bigger problems than 2,000 workers in Tennessee at each other’s throats over a union – or the motherland works council saying no more cars for Tennessee.

    Of course if they keep on their current path, and VW eventually walks away from Tennessee due to falling sales volumes and costs of building in ‘Merica – you know the wails will be it was the union’s fault.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “you know the wails will be it was the union’s fault.”

      I wouldn’t be too sure about that since your opening line hits the nail right on the head, “If VW doesn’t start building products North American consumers actually want, at a quality level they expect, with content and materials that are class competitive, and pricing them properly (up or down depending on the product) they have way bigger problems than 2,000 workers in Tennessee at each other’s throats over a union – or the motherland works council saying no more cars for Tennessee.”

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    I’ve pretty much said my peace on the matter. The fight wages on and frankly I’ll be watching and waiting. VW’s labor side has made it clear they weren’t happy with politicians interfering with threats and actually under NLRA rules that is grounds for a re-vote since he named ‘VW officials’ in his statement. He was in a position of authority and used it inappropriately. But I digress, what VW decides to do is their business and I see no reason not to punish workers who abandon their own interests in the name of petty ideology that actually hurts them.

  • avatar
    Viquitor

    What about China? Is IG bullying the chinese into unionizing? No, they are not. So IG is full of BS.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      The Chinese don’t have a legal right to unionize. For claiming to be communist their basically still an oligarchy replacing private capitalism with a state-run variant. So, what is your point after you proved that you didn’t even know that.

      • 0 avatar
        Viquitor

        Yes, I knew that. My point is, IG is just trying to stay relevant by making noise wherever they can, and not in all of VAG’s plants.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          You just said you knew that the Chinese cannot unionize so why would IG fight something like that and after reading TTAC and some others VAG operates in China because of China’s import system being a mess.

          In other words: Your argument doesn’t make sense as IG is working where they have some legal precedent to. It would be foolish to ignore a large burgeoning market and I hate to say it, I recognize it is hypocritical but you need to make the money to fight the war in the end. So sometimes you do hypocritical things to win.


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