Corker 1, UAW 0

Lies don’t matter:

U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said on Wednesday he has been “assured” that if workers at the Volkswagen AG plant in his hometown of Chattanooga reject United Auto Worker representation, the company will reward the plant with a new product to build.

Corker’s bombshell, which runs counter to public statements by Volkswagen, was dropped on the first of a three-day secret ballot election of blue-collar workers at the Chattanooga plant whether to allow the UAW to represent them.

As long as you win:

Volkswagen’s Chattanooga employees have spurned the United Auto Workers, rejecting two years of wooing by the Detroit-based union in a vote of 712 to 626.

The vote count came late Friday after three days of balloting by VW workers in the National Labor Relations Board-supervised election. Some experts said the result is a blow to the UAW and that the VW plant was its best chance to organize a foreign-owned auto factory in the South.

Thanks to reader R for sending this in.

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151 replies
  1. 1
    dr. bloor says:

    Corker, blah, blah, blah.

    The story is 712-626. You can only do so much to get people to vote in their best interests. Good luck to them.

    And as for VW, if they’re so invested in Employee-Management partnerships, let’s see if they decide to expand in TN or go to another state that isn’t as blatantly anti-worker.

  2. 2
    JPL says:

    The President said it best when he stated the GOP cares more about German stockholders, than they do American workers. Although I wasn’t surprised about the outcome, I was disappointed.

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    Sucks. But I don’t know that Corker’s particular lie was the determinative factor.

  4. 4
    JPL says:

    Why are my tax dollars still supporting the TVA. It’s time to let the fine folk of Tennessee foot their own bill.

  5. 5
    c u n d gulag says:

    Ah, yet another group of chickens, throwing their support behind Col. Sanders!

  6. 6
    Aimai says:

    That will teach volkswagon not to mess with tenn.

  7. 7
    raven says:

    Football players are mean, pukes are liars and water is wet.

  8. 8

    Another one of Corker’s lies was “look what the unions did to Detroit.” That’s not a dog whistle; that’s an N-clang air raid siren.

  9. 9
    Gypsy Howell says:

    @dr. bloor:

    Well, honesty isn’t that probably the reason they are there to being with, because it’s an anti-union low wage state, all the talk of Employee- Management teams notwithstanding? I mean they could have set up shop in Michigan or someplace where there are already skilled auto workers, but they chose Tennessee.

  10. 10
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Did anyone expect a different result? Southerners have always been partial to slavery.

  11. 11
    eric says:

    Exhibit A against the power of the bully pulpit in general. These workers have so accepted the GOP line about unions that they voted against their own interests. No amount of telling them like it is would get them to see the folly of this vote. Horse, water, just not drinking. This is the goal of FOX news and the think tanks. not just policy but indoctrination of the lower class to accept what is best for the upper class as best for the lower class itself.

  12. 12
    Gypsy Howell says:

    I hope every time VWs stock goes up, someone points out to those workers that a shareholder sitting on his fat ass somewhere else in the world took a little bit more of their pay.

  13. 13
    PaulW says:

    What happens when it turns out Volkswagen wasn’t bringing a new production line to Tennessee?

    VW publicly WANTED a union set-up so they could handle some of the management issues. But Corker comes out saying otherwise. Who really is speaking for Volkswagen?

    If VW wasn’t planning on bringing a new line in, they ought to file charges on Corker for misrepresentation, fraud, and any ethics violations they can pursue through the courts, ’cause I doubt this Congress will lift a f-cking finger to do anything against one of their own.

  14. 14
    raven says:

    @PaulW: Hahahaha, you so funny.

  15. 15
    monkeyfister says:

    @PaulW: The TN State Legislature sure won’t help, either. And any state-level court actions are less than guaranteed.

    Sad deal for the workers in Tennessee. I really do not living here.

  16. 16
    Another Botsplainer says:

    @Mustang Bobby: We have a winner.

  17. 17
    Ben Cisco says:

    I’m at a point where, if people are so determined to walk off a cliff, the best I’m going to be able to do is make sure they’re not holding on to me when they do so.

    (Being a Ni-CLANG!, I don’t expect this to be a problem; they’re walking off that cliff b/c they fear me to begin with. Loathe me to begin with. Think I’M not “Real ‘Murkan” enough to begin with. Their own prejudices will doom them.)

  18. 18
    GregB says:

    Detroit is the big effing enchilada when it comes to rightwing bashing of unions. As if union workers were the only factor that lead to what is modern day Detroit.

    If unions were the only reason for economic decline I am going to assume that all of *Germany is a post Apocalyptic hellscape too.

    *Sweden and Denmark and Finland are all over 80% unionized. I hear those places are worse than Detroit too.

  19. 19
    amk says:

    Germans, the fucking commies.

    The push for organisation started after Volkswagen opened its only US facility in Chattanooga in 2010.

    The manufacturer’s 61 other plants around the world have so-called “work councils”, which represent employees’ interests in daily dealings with management.

    Mandated by law in Germany and popular in other European countries, works councils have never been tried in a US factory.

    Prior to the ballot, VW’s Chattanooga chief executive Frank Fischer said in a statement: “Our plant in Chattanooga has the opportunity to create a uniquely American Works Council, in which the company would be able to work co-operatively with our employees and ultimately their union representatives, if the employees decide they wish to be represented by a union.”

  20. 20
    khead says:

    I hope VW now builds the SUV in Mexico. Elections, consequences, etc.

  21. 21
    Amir Khalid says:

    @khead:
    If I’m not mistaken, that’s going to be a decision for the global works council at Volkswagen AG.

  22. 22
    brendancalling says:

    Stupid is as stupid does, all I gotta say.

  23. 23
    Glocksman says:

    It’s not VW nor is it Tennessee, but there is a nefarious reason why a company may want a union.

    When my employer opened in 1986, they hired 100 or so people from a clothing plant that had recently shut down.
    Those workers were ILGWU members.

    An election was held and the ILGWU was certified.
    After the election, they hired the remaining 1200+ workers they needed to staff the plant.

    The reason they did this was to avoid being organized by the Teamsters, who never would have settled for the shitty ILG contracts that let the company put a de facto seniority based pay system into place.

    To this day, I will never make what a 1987 hire makes because our contracts only set the amount of the yearly raise, along with the starting pay ($8.25/hr), despite performing the exact same jobs.

    Before I started in 1996, the Teamsters finally won an NRLB ruling and an election was held to determine which union would represent the workers.
    The teamsters won, but the ILG kept appealing and the Teamsters international ordered the Teamsters local to drop the matter, as it was a obstacle to their entry into the AFL-CIO.

    As an ex-shop steward, I can tell you that our pay system leads to deep divisions in the plant, which plays into the company’s hands.
    All thanks to the goddamned ILGWU.

  24. 24
    c u n d gulag says:

    @PaulW:
    “What happens when it turns out Volkswagen wasn’t bringing a new production line to Tennessee?”

    Today’s edition of fairly SATSQ:
    Conservatives will blame the unions, Liberals, and Democrats!

  25. 25
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Glocksman: That was not the case with VW..

  26. 26
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    The opponents of the UAW played hardball. It’s not surprising.

    E.g. see the billboard in this BBC piece:

    UNITED AUTO OBAMA WORKERS
    The UAW spends millions to elect liberal politicians
    including BARACK OBAMA. – workerfreedom.org

    Billboards like that push a lot of buttons. Supporters of unions need to have a way to push-back against the connotations that unions and democratic candidate supporters have in the south. If you have an overarching hatred of Obama, that billboard would give you a strong (and true) reason not to vote for UAW representation.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if opponents crossed the line in the run-up to this election, but they wouldn’t have had to do that to win the election. It was and will continue to be difficult for a union to win a major election until the Republicans are crushed in the South.

    If VW were really interested in having a strong union partner, they wouldn’t have put the plant in Tennessee. But TN was able to give them $0.5B+ in incentives that MI and similarly situated states couldn’t. As long as states can race to the bottom, it’s probably not going to change without federal legislation. And we know how likely that is with the present composition of the House (and to a lesser extent the Senate).

    It’s a long war. The UAW lost this round. They’ve got to keep fighting.

    My $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  27. 27
    Glocksman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I know.
    My understanding is that the German unions who have seats on VW’s board put the pressure on the company to not actively oppose the UAW.

  28. 28
    p.a. says:

    I think it was a Nissan plant in Tenn. or SC where the company had to reprint their training manuals with graphics instead of text because the employees were too fucking stupid to understand text. Any commentors here who take offense at our condemnations as too-broad, sorry. It is what it is.

  29. 29
    satby says:

    @p.a.: Illiterate people are not necessarily stupid, and with the way the reicht-wing has all but destroyed public education in many states (not just the south) illiteracy is probably rising.

  30. 30
    PurpleGirl says:

    I’m not surprised at all. Southerners have been anti-union for a long time. This vote is in that tradition.

  31. 31
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Glocksman:
    No, that’s not it either. Volkswagen runs its production facilities all over the world with works councils, not just in Germany where they are a legal requirement. It sees them as good for industrial relations and an advantage in its operations, so it wanted one in Chattanooga too. But per US law, it can’t, now, organise a works council in Chattanooga without a union. It might not be happy to have an outlier in that regard, which needlessly complicates its operations.

  32. 32

    Corker and Haslam’s interference violates labor law and could be grounds for a re-vote, though I don’t know if they will do that….

  33. 33
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Glocksman: As usual, union relations can be complicated. My own, the CDC of the Carpenters is run more as the personal fiefdom of the top dog who pretty much does what he wants regardless of how the actual membership feels. Just saying that could get me fined. Still, when I was working I made $45+ an hour in wages and benefits and I don’t know a nonunion carpenter who makes anywhere near my hourly wage, with no healthcare, no pension.

  34. 34
    rikyrah says:

    when will you learn…

    the working class Southern White will ALWAYS vote against his own economic interest.

    which is why I continue to say fuck ’em.

  35. 35
    rikyrah says:

    @Ben Cisco:

    I’m with you, Ben Cisco. I’ve been saying for awhile, fuck these stupid muthafuckas.

  36. 36
    IowaOldLady says:

    I’m so sad about this. The weaking of unions is one of the reasons for increasing income disparity.

  37. 37
    Big R says:

    Fun fact as a labor lawyer: if VW really wanted a union, there wouldn’t have been an election. Card check is a permitted recognition mechanism. I know employers that have negotiated campaign agreements with unions for various reasons, including provisions for card check.

  38. 38
    Suffern ACE says:

    When the republicans finally manage to get laborers to vote to give up overtime pay, Sundays off and payment in currency, I don’t know how upset I’ll be.

  39. 39
    Big R says:

    @Southern Beale: No, it doesn’t violate labor law. Labor law prevents the employer from violating laboratory conditions in an election. Nothing about third parties.

  40. 40
    Suffern ACE says:

    Next up I suppose is getting liberals to remove the ban on worker committees without a union. I’m sure there was a good reason for that once, but since the reason is forgotten, why not help those good souls that are VW management out. What could possibly go wrong?

  41. 41
    D58826 says:

    It’s still sort of a democracy in this country and if the majority of voters (in union elections or November elections) want to vote themselves into economic servitude in Koch Brothers Inc, there isn’t much that can be done in the short ruin. The best hope is to try and continue to convince these folks that the Kochs and the GOP really don’t give a darn about them. Until then we will see the same thing happen over and over again .

  42. 42
    Chris says:

    @rikyrah:

    Much as I agree, union popularity is at an all time low everywhere, not just in the South. Which is one reason I often wonder how the fuck we’re going to get out of here.

  43. 43
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Big R: Is that legal in TN? Is it part of federal labor law?

  44. 44
    Ash Can says:

    @Gypsy Howell: I don’t understand your point. Stock prices are determined by the stock market; they involve no payout by the company. I think you’re thinking of dividends, which are paid exceedingly rarely or by companies such as utilities, whose stock prices tend not to fluctuate.

  45. 45
    Tokyokie says:

    @satby: Nearly 30 years ago, I worked at a newspaper in Chattanooga. Every graduation season, the paper would run mug shots of the local high schools’ valedictorians and salutatorians with extended cutlines about their plans. I noticed one year that the city’s largest public high school (which means black; the white kids went to crummy, (mostly) church-based schools or were in the suburbs along Byron De La Beckwith) had produced a valedictorian who was enrolling in trade school and a salutatorian who was considering junior college. In other words, out of a senior class of nearly 2,000 students (or about that many when they were freshmen), not a single one was going to attend a four-year college.

    And when I suggested that was a problem, nobody I knew there seemed to think so.

  46. 46
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Suffern ACE: They run the risk of becoming de-facto company-run unions, which the NLRB’s enabling act killed off in 1935. We’ve been there before. The shipyards in Gdnyia had ’em

  47. 47
    MomSense says:

    As liberals, we argue fiercely over policy details but our overall message of fairness and basic rights and standard of living get lost in the details AND the arguing. Meanwhile the right repeat the same, simple messages for 50 years until people just accept their messages as truth. The messages play to fears, racism, and pride. Every time something like this happens liberals wonder why people would vote against their economic self interest.

  48. 48
    Big R says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: The only issue where state labor law is not preempted is right to work for less. Everything else is field preempted by the NLRA.

  49. 49
    Chris says:

    @Tokyokie:

    Of course not. It simply proves black people are too dumb to go to college.

  50. 50
    Kay says:

    @p.a.:

    Which doesn’t explain why the salaried workers at VW campaigned against the union. Presumably they can read.
    There has to be some recognition at the tier above working class that race to the bottom wages hurt them. They, we (I’m one) aren’t going to be able to continue to set these neat partitions between groups, where there’s the “I have a college degree and make 65k” group that is unaffected by the group below.
    If the massive group below them aren’t making any gains, they don’t have any money to spend. That hurts all of us; “small business people”, everyone. It IS hurting all of us. We’re all harmed by low wages.
    It’s a race to the bottom on wages and there’s nothing pushing back to stop it other than labor unions and working people who are risk-averse because they are barely hanging on.
    It doesn’t matter how productive they are or whether they train and close the “opportunity gap”, they’re all going to be making 15 dollars an hour. That hurts people who make 65k.
    Until people understand that, that they aren’t going to be able to remain in the middle class anymore than these workers are, that they’re either stuck or slipping too, it will be labor trying to convince people at the low end who are barely hanging on to take a risk. That’s very difficult to do. I think they only reason they were able to get traction with fast food workers is, fast food workers had literally NOTHING to lose. They were willing to take a risk, because why the fuck not? They have nothing now.
    The TN workers have good jobs, and they are trying to hang onto that. It’s understandable. It won’t work, Nissan in TN are already using temps, but they’re not the only ones who are deluding themselves that they can just hang on and be okay. A lot of educated people are doing the same thing.

  51. 51
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Big R: Okay, thanks. Labor law is not at all my area.

  52. 52
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Kay: Hear, hear.

  53. 53
    Patrick says:

    @Ash Can:

    I don’t understand your point. Stock prices are determined by the stock market; they involve no payout by the company. I think you’re thinking of dividends, which are paid exceedingly rarely or by companies such as utilities, whose stock prices tend not to fluctuate.

    I assume he meant that by the employees rejecting the union, they are willingly accepting lower wages. Lower wages may mean higher income for the income. Higher income for the company may mean a higher stock price.

    Thus Gypsy Howell’s statement,

    I hope every time VWs stock goes up, someone points out to those workers that a shareholder sitting on his fat ass somewhere else in the world took a little bit more of their pay.

    is potentially true. Of course, a stock price is determined by a million things.

  54. 54
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Kay: middle class people are too concerned that working class people might get something for nothing to notice that their company pensions changed into 401(k)s and they also had stagnant wages. But did you know that if you increase the minimum wage that you’re giving people a raise that they didn’t earn? We can’t have that.

  55. 55
    Mike in NC says:

    @PurpleGirl: Southerns are also anti-Union (see “1861”).

  56. 56
    La Caterina (Mrs. Johannes) says:

    @Big R: @Omnes Omnibus: Actually, if Corker’s statement about VW promising another production line if the union was defeated were true, then VW would probably have committed an improper practice. I am a labor law amateur, but my husband makes improper practice decisions for a living and that’s his take.

    Conceivably, the NLRB could investigate Corker’s statement and at least expose him as a liar. it would be interesting, if not helpful to the workers. Maybe the union would have a tortious interference or fraud claim against him.

  57. 57
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @La Caterina (Mrs. Johannes): Chances are the voters in that election split 60-40 or better for Corker. They knew what they were getting.

  58. 58
    negative 1 says:

    @Suffern ACE: They didn’t forget the reason. It’s to keep the idle rich in charge. You just saw what happened when some people tried to change that in their own plant.

  59. 59
    Kay says:

    @p.a.:

    Also, they train all the time in manufacturing. We have a Honda supplier here and they are constantly training. They run classes two days a week using video instructors. The workers file in there twice a week for Honda-paid training. They’re reliable enough at it that they have keys to the training facility, they run the whole thing themselves. They make between 15 and 17 dollars an hour. That’s how badly they want to keep those jobs.
    How do you tell people like that to take a risk? They’re terrified that they will lose what they have, and they’re RIGHT. That’s a rational fear! They do everything right, they train, they’re productive as hell, and still they’re stuck at 15. They roll their eyes when they’re told they simply have to gain some “skills” and seek “opportunity”. It’s bullshit, and they know it.

  60. 60
    Gex says:

    @MomSense: But what can you do? Issues are complex. A lot of right wing policies make a tiny little bit of sense if you do not have any surrounding context. It’s when you put issues in a wider context that liberal policies make more sense and that conservative policies are shown to be counter productive. People just don’t want to think or understand things beyond the simple solutions the GOP gives them that also happen to feel good at a gut level.

    I don’t know how you fight that. Other than you keep on doing it because to stop would be even worse.

  61. 61
    Big R says:

    @La Caterina (Mrs. Johannes): No, that is correct. But VW has publicly denied those allegations, and Corker’s statement isn’t part of the election campaign.

  62. 62
    Anya says:

    I feel bad for the 626 workers who voted for their interest. The other workers deserve whatever happens to them.

  63. 63
    Kay says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    I’ve given this a lot of thought and I’m more sympathetic to them than that. This is the basic bargain they were taught, it is not? That they WOULD be able to insulate themselves with a college degree and hard work, right? They see it as zero sum, and that’s a position they’ve adopted that is based on fear. It’s a defensive position.
    Again, I don’t think it will work, I think their fate is dependent on the group below, but I get it. It makes sense to me.
    The people here who seem to understand the connection best are small business people, because it’s so immediate and tangible to us. When we went to 16% unemployment here, it was like turning off a light switch. I’ve never seen anything like it. If anyone who has a small business here was deluding themselves that it doesn’t matter what people who live here MAKE in wages, they were quickly disabused of that notion.
    It’s tough because I think I’m an optimist, or perhaps just very shallow and easily distracted, one of those two things, and I don’t see a way out. I don’t even see a way past it, and I always see an angle :)

  64. 64
    Billyboy says:

    That’s what the slave culture did to the south. Stop them from importing slaves from Africa and they’ll make their own. I have my own notions of what the north should have done to the confederacy after winning the civil war. A more thorough, final job. Don’t fret, it’s all in the past, can’t do anything about that now…

  65. 65
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Big R: Oddly, this is an occasion where I trust the statement of the corporate “person” over that of the actual person.

  66. 66
    Ruckus says:

    @Big R:
    Maybe VW wanted for the employees to accept the union, not just have one, because they find around the world that’s how it works. They wanted an election to see how well the employees would work with the company. That would require the employees to want to be organized. Otherwise they could just treat the employees like other big companies do. Maybe they wanted to actually do better and involve the employees in the process. It does work for them everywhere else.

  67. 67
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Anya: And this is the reason I don’t sign on to rikyrah’s fuck ’em sentiments. There are enough non-idiots/non-assholes everywhere that I can’t write off whole regions.

  68. 68
    beltane says:

    @Mike in NC: It is a very servile mindset reminiscent of Medieval peasants. These are people who humbly accept whatever their “betters” deal out to them. Not only do they not want or expect anything better, they are highly resentful of anyone who does.

  69. 69
    Linnaeus says:

    I’ll need to think about this for a while. Right now, my gut reaction is a combination of idealism (“One day longer”) and cynicism (“If that’s what they want, let ’em have it”).

  70. 70
    beltane says:

    @Linnaeus: The subtext of the “Don’t Tread on Me” message is “Please Tread on Me, rich man”.

  71. 71
    Kay says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    I have to say, though, I really do loathe Grover Norquist. The idea that this life-long lobbyist and political operative who has been making a living doing this shit since he was 28 years old is a respectable person in media and among elite people in DC is a fucking travesty. He’s unemployable in the real economy, yet he is invited to pontificate on matters economic and he attends parties with leaders, is asked for quotes on real life, etc.

    It’s disgusting, and they could change this corrupt, bankrupt, cynical culture if they wanted to, but they don’t, because they’re ALL making big bucks talking to each other. Why is he a respectable person? He’s a fucking sleazy crook who only escaped prosecution in Abramoff because they circled the wagons and protected him.

  72. 72
    Ruckus says:

    @Kay:
    Posted here before about my small retail store. I was located in one of the richest counties not just in CA but in the country. When the recession hit, everything shut down. My building was empty in months, 75% empty. I was the only business in the building. It was like that all over, people only spending what they had to to live, food, utilities. Idiots in congress, they got paid though. Nothing changed for them, so nothing changed for everyone else either. Except of course it did. The food chain does have an effect in both directions but there are pockets that don’t feel it much.

  73. 73
    Big R says:

    @Ruckus: So, you don’t understand card check?

  74. 74
    ericblair says:

    Assuming that VW is telling the truth and Corker isn’t, so now what? AFAIU, now a bunch of Tennesseans expect the new product, VW says, um, no, like we told you, that wasn’t the deal. So eyes turn to Corker, wondering WTF. Corker blames Obummer and teh Unionz because they exist. Most buy it because TN, some don’t. Would there be another union vote then?

  75. 75
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Kay:

    And he’s a young man, only 57. He’ll be around for decades :-(

  76. 76
    Ruckus says:

    @Big R:
    No.
    But that wasn’t my point. VW is used to the employees being organized. By the employees. Does card check do that? So I went and looked it up. And to answer my question, NO it doesn’t. The employees still have to want it. It appears that they didn’t want it bad enough. Card check does what, makes the process a little less intimidating? Makes it a little harder to screw with the employees? Would that have changed the outcome? Not saying not having a ballot all done at the same time won’t work better for union building, IOW card check is another good tool but here the company wanted a union. How would card check change that?

  77. 77
    Thor Heyerdahl says:

    @ericblair: And then VW says adios and expands their Mexican operations. So TN will blame Obummer, teh Unionz, teh Krauts (or godwin the situation), and teh Messcans.

  78. 78
    SRW1 says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    If I’m not mistaken, that’s going to be a decision for the global works council at Volkswagen AG.

    Not quite. These kinds of decisions are generally taken by the supervisory board (Aufsichtsrat). On which the works council is represented, but not in such a way as to have the decisive voice.

    Chairmen (and they generally are all men) of work councils in German car companies can have a considerably degree of influence, but they have to be careful on when to bring it to bear. Unfortunately, I sort of suspect that after the negative vote by the Chattanooga workforce, the union representatives on the Volkswagen AG supervisory board will not consider messing with Corker a worthwhile investment of their company capital.

  79. 79
    p.a. says:

    @Kay: (Kay et.al. actually) I believe the illiteracy rate in the US is <4%. (I know, functional illiteracy…) My comment on 'stupidity' was unclear. I meant not only low competence but also, pardon the Marxism, false consciousness. And it's been the same since 1866! So I'm sorry; I'm a union member from a union family and I'm with the others in this thread who are fed up with excusing a group of people who are scared to get off all fours, and whose (in)action helps drag down the rest of the working people in this country. FOR GENERATIONS.

  80. 80
    Kay says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    It’s so corrosive because it all but creates cynical people. I watch these political pundit programs sometimes, where they periodically wring their hands about the lack of participation and people who aren’t “engaged in our democracy” and then I watch the parade of guests, the people they know and invite and seem to respect, and I think “what did you think was going to happen?”

    Really? Ed Rendell and Grover Norquist are they best they can do? Those two people are lobbyists. That’s what they do, how they earn their living. Last night they had Harold Ford pontificating on what this means for unions. When is the last time Harold Ford had an actual job?

    Ask someone else. Stop paying these people who are so far removed from anything that might be relevant to “voters” that it’s ludicrous. If people think “this is a club and I’m not in it” are they wrong about that? I don’t think they are! I think I agree with them!

  81. 81
    Elizabelle says:

    OK, vote was 712-626, with 89% of the workforce voting. That’s 1,338 votes total.

    Anti-union vote was 53.2%; pro-union was 46.8%. That’s 6-7%, definitive but not a complete blowout, and you got these numbers in Tennessee.

    165 workers did not vote at all. That’s 11% of the workforce.

    Interesting to watch what happens, once it becomes evident if Corker was telling the truth. VW may have something to say eventually, veiled or not.

    One of Obama’s themes this year is opportunity (which we can call “income inequality” under our breath). And workers making $31K annually are not spending like drunken sailors in the local economy.

    Maybe this was just round one.

  82. 82
    Kay says:

    @p.a.:

    But why are you singling them out? The group above them are just as bad, if not worse. Security is relative. They are doing exactly the same thing that the people with college degrees and work directly above them are doing, they are holding on to what they have. It isn’t a low tier worker problem. 17 an hour to them is the same as 65k a year to the salaried people.

    If they are less “conscious” than they should be, well then so are the engineers and managers and all the others in that plant and in the huge supplier chain that think they’re immune from this. IMO, this approach you’re using isn’t intended to be divide and conquer, but it ends at the same place. If the salaried people at VW think that the Nissen plant down the road using temps isn’t eventually going to reach THEM then they are just as “unconscious” as the 17 an hour crowd.

  83. 83
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    At this point I’m surprised there hasn’t been a movement to constitutionally abolish Unions at this point, because, you know, Unions are the super-mega-ulta-wealth destroying, economy killing monstrosities in all of history, and far too many goddamn people in this country seem to think so.

  84. 84
    Elizabelle says:

    @dr. bloor:

    And as for VW, if they’re so invested in Employee-Management partnerships, let’s see if they decide to expand in TN or go to another state that isn’t as blatantly anti-worker.

    I would hope VW might do this. Not Mexico.

    Look, Germany and Europe have a lot riding on the US having a sustainable economy, even if our vampire squids don’t see the point.

    Doesn’t VW have to sell said cars, and it’s easier to do so if there’s a broad consuming class?

  85. 85
    Kay says:

    @p.a.:

    Our social workers unionized in the last year. I was cheering them on, I work with them, I know what a shitty job they have. The biggest push-back they faced was from the supervisors and managers directly above them. They didn’t want anything to change, because they’re making the princely sum of 37k and these newly-minted union thugs might be pushing from the bottom up against that.
    Apparently they haven’t noticed that they’re privatizing social work all over the country, and they’re next. I don’t think “conscious” has anything to do with either a bachelor’s degree or a salary.
    These women who organized were led by the daughter of a police officer. She noticed that Ohio went after her father’s wages with this insane campaign against public employees, and if all our Right wing law and order types in this extremely conservative county were going after police, no one was “safe”. The people above her apparently didn’t get that.

  86. 86
    Cassidy says:

    In the South it’s about maintaining a power structure. I’ve said before, everything that happens down here can be described in the fish and pond scenarios: everyone wants to be a big fish, no matter what size the pond. As long as there is someone beneath you, then you can be happy. My department unionized a couple years ago and one of our officers was voted as union rep. He went to the County Commissioners meeting and they didn’t even let him in to talk. They simply didn’t give a shit and their message was received loud and clear; my department hasn’t tried since. Big fish, little, tiny rural pond.

  87. 87
    p.a. says:

    election of blue-collar workers at the Chattanooga plant whether to allow the UAW to represent them.

    We (today’s thread critics) are singling them out because, this time, they were the ones that voted. I do have more compassion for even the ‘no’ voters than I do for the engineers and managers; they are management, they’ve made their decision and chose a job wherein they know they are employed at the whim of the company.
    But there was still a ‘no’ vote under conditions where the employer was neutral at worst. I understand but will not excuse.

  88. 88

    I f Corker lied when he said all that while the vote was going on, will the vote count? It seems like that would be some kind of interference. Is it lawful for somebody to horn in on a vote like that? Can the union bring a complaint with the NLRB or something? Maybe somebody who knows more about this than I do can set me right here.

  89. 89
    ruemara says:

    @rikyrah: ditto. I’ve never understood this desire to actually be a slave.

  90. 90
    Pogonip says:

    @Kay: When the VW employees start getting paid in corporate scrip, and must shop at the company store because all the other stores moved to places where real money was still in use, maybe then they’ll begin to wake up.

  91. 91
    Sly says:

    @JPL:
    They don’t even care about German stockholders.

    Southern Whites, statistically speaking, care about keeping unions out of the South, and have for as long as unions existed. The one exception, owing to its unique political culture, is West Virginia, but it isn’t much of an exception considering the particularly bloody history of unionization efforts in that state.

    This is the legacy of white supremacy in the South; the creation of a wholly new political identity that united various class strata for the express purpose of convincing poor people not to use their majoritarian power to take the undeserved privileges away from the planter aristocracy. That identity, while it has been slowly collapsing over decades and decades, is still powerful, and unionization has been the second-most serious threat to it.

  92. 92
    Arclite says:

    I’m sure someone has already posted it, but the suppression and decline of unions coincides with the the rise in inequality and the stagnation of wages. It’s no coincidence.

  93. 93
    Sly says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.):

    I f Corker lied when he said all that while the vote was going on, will the vote count?

    Probably.

    It seems like that would be some kind of interference. Is it lawful for somebody to horn in on a vote like that?

    No.

    Can the union bring a complaint with the NLRB or something?

    Yes, and they likely will. But don’t get your hopes up that it would go anywhere.

  94. 94
    Ruckus says:

    @ruemara:
    I don’t understand it either except that if all you see is a bad situation, making yours however little better is still better. IOW “Been down so long, everything looks like up.”
    Is being a willing slave better than being beaten and hung?
    Is being a willing wage earner at 35-40K better than 20K?

  95. 95
    Elie says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet:

    I agree — its a long battle and we keep going… Americans, particularly in the south, will have to wake up and learn.

    This battle about the rights of workers to work or an honest wage goes back to the Civil War. Then, at the beginning of the industrial revolution, there was the threat that the south with its plantation and agrarian economic frame would block the ability for workers to have good jobs and fair wages as opposed to the false wage depression of slavery. THAT was what undergirded the interest of the North in opposing the south from signing up new states as slave states and from imposing their economic “plantation” framework on the rest of the country.
    The south has yet to fully shed the frame of being a giant plantation with free labor either in slaves or low wage workers too poor to use their group power to leverage better for themselves. It goes back even before then and the “cracker culture” that had its roots in English-Irish culture.
    We have to keep the long view in this multigeneration slog for fairness for workers — bending the arc of justice is hard long work but we will keep it going, bending towards justice…

  96. 96
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Elie: I agree with this. While I understand the frustration and resultant need to vent on our side, I hope that it doesn’t spill over and become cynicism or hopelessness. Political progress always seems to be a two steps forward one step back sort of thing and we have been in a backward stepping phase for most of my life. I think things are starting to turn though.

  97. 97

    This is the reason why my sister in Florida would vote for Jeb over a Dem even though Jeb privatized her job six months before retirement. As long as people vote against their own interests to keep their next-to-last rung on the ladder this will continue. I bet the German autoworkers look at Chattanooga with amazement and pity.

  98. 98

    This is the reason why my sister in Florida would vote for Jeb over a Dem even though Jeb privatized her job six months before retirement. As long as people vote against their own interests to keep their next-to-last rung on the ladder this will continue. I bet the German autoworkers look at Chattanooga with amazement and pity.

  99. 99
    Kay says:

    @Pogonip:

    When the VW employees start getting paid in corporate scrip,

    It’s difficult for me to watch. Well, “watch” probably isn’t right. I’m as dependent on workers wages as anyone else. I’m in it. The big lie is that anyone who isn’t a billionaire is somehow cordoned off from this. Race to the bottom pulls the whole middle class down with it, and the college-educated “management tier” people who don’t see it yet are kidding themselves. It just plain won’t work. It’s not that ‘they” can’t all survive on 12 dollars an hour. None of us can. We need them to have some money to spend.

    This was a real heartbreaker for me because I followed it for weeks. At one point they thought they had “70% cards” (people who had committed) which I read on Twitter, so I was really hopeful going in.

  100. 100
    Linnaeus says:

    I’m hearing a lot about how this vote means that the UAW is done for in the South, but there are other organizing campaigns still going on (Nissan, Daimler). This won’t make them any easier, but I’m hoping we don’t need to throw dirt on the grave just yet.

  101. 101
    Elie says:

    @Kay:

    The vote was NOT 0 for unionization and 1000 against. It was CLOSE and you have to understand that this is progress — even if it looks superficially like failure. We are not correct if we emphasize this as a loss. It is a victory, though not absolute — 80% + workers voted for this and we will build from that excellent number.. Believe it!

  102. 102
    Kay says:

    @Pogonip:

    They did get some licks in on Corker during the course of this thing. There’s a UAW plant in TN, and they had video of him telling those workers how fabulous they were, at the same time as he was following orders to portray unions as full of lazy thugs.
    The way anti-labor politicians and media millionaires pull this off is they say “union bosses”. They don’t loathe workers. They loathe “union bosses”. They ALL do it. I’m to the point where I wait for the rhetorical device to be employed. It’s always there.

  103. 103
    Linnaeus says:

    @Kay:

    Yes, the “union boss” rhetoric is always there. Also the “third party” accusation. These are timeless anti-union favorites.

  104. 104
    Tokyokie says:

    @Kay: When I had a job in Chattanooga, I worked in an office with mostly white-collar, college-educated people. And although I hated pretty much every minute of my time there, I found it easier to get along with those who were less educated and upfront about their prejudices rather than more educated and less aware of them.

  105. 105
    Kay says:

    @Elie:

    Honestly Elie, at some point it’s just “time’s up!”. This is moving really fast. We already have huge income inequality and every step back doesn’t just leave that static, it accelerates the race to the bottom. It’s not like there’s this unchanging group called “the middle class” to act as a bulwark where there’s just endless time to turn this around. I think that’s the reality of the situation. There’s a time issue here that has to be accepted.

  106. 106
    Cervantes says:

    Just remember: 1338 votes were cast. 626 voted for the UAW. Had 44 votes (3% of votes cast) switched sides, the UAW would have won. And this was in Tennessee.

    Eyes on the prize.

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: To echo (or foreshadow) a few things you said … Two news reports from 4 years ago, before the plant was operational. Then one report from two days ago.

    First, from four years ago, is Andy Sher, Chattanooga Times Free Press, November 28, 2010:

    NASHVILLE — U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., says he has told Volkswagen officials that he thinks it would be “highly detrimental” to the German manufacturer if the United Auto Workers organizes its Chattanooga assembly plant. “I was asked to give input, and I did,” Corker said. The advice stemmed from his experience trying to negotiate with the union during the 2008 federal bailout of GM and Chrysler, he said. “I certainly shared with [VW] I couldn’t see how there was any possibility it could be a benefit to them to enter into a contract with UAW,” said Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor. He stressed he is not “anti-union” and said he often employed union craftsmen when he ran a construction company. But the UAW “breeds an ‘us versus they’ relationship, and I just don’t think it’s healthy for a company to be set up in that regard,” Corker said.

    […]

    Guenther Scherelis, Volkswagen Group of America Inc.’s general manager of communication, declined to address Corker’s specific comments. […] “At Volkswagen Chattanooga, the employees will decide for themselves about their representation,” Scherelis said in an e-mail. Asked if Volkswagen management would take a stance if the UAW seeks to organize a union, Scherelis replied, “Volkswagen Chattanooga has a neutral position.”

    Then, a week later, Bill Visnic, writing for Edmunds (December 6, 2010):

    Meanwhile, CEO Fischer, who’s served in company roles all over the world, said VW came at the Chattanooga project by trying to remember what went wrong a generation ago in Westmoreland, PA, the site of the company’s last and troubled U.S. assembly plant. Almost from the start, that plant […] was beset by labor unrest and other social problems.

    Tennessee is a “right-to-work” state in which union membership cannot be made a condition of employment. […] Spokesman Scherelis was quoted by the paper as saying employees at Chattanooga will decide for themselves on the matter of union representation.

    Although he did not specifically mention the labor unrest that had become a hallmark of VW’s experience in Westmoreland from 1978-88, Fischer said, “For us, it was important to look at our history and learn from it.” He said networking between Westmoreland and Volkswagen headquarters in Germany was “very bad,” adding that, “if you look at Westmoreland, it was not a good experience.”

    Two days ago (Richard Cowan & Bernie Woodall, Reuters, February 13):

    Republican Senator Bob Corker told Reuters on Thursday that he is “very certain that if the UAW is voted down,” the automaker will announce new investment in the plant “in the next couple weeks.”

    Corker’s latest remarks seemed to contradict an earlier statement by Frank Fischer, chief executive of VW Chattanooga, that there was “no connection” between the vote at its three-year-old Tennessee plant and a looming decision on whether VW will build a new crossover vehicle there or in Mexico. Volkswagen headquarters in Germany declined further comment and referred to Fischer’s statement.

  107. 107
    Cervantes says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Here is an early reaction from the UAW.

    Some other indications:

    National Labor Relations Board expert Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt, who is professor of labor & employment law at the University of Indiana-Bloomington, said Corker was trying to intimidate workers into voting against the union. “I’m really kind of shocked at Corker’s statement,” said Dau-Schmidt. “It’s so inconsistent with what VW has been saying and VW’s labor relations policy in general.” The Indiana professor also said Corker’s comments “would be grounds to set the election aside and have to run it all over again at a later date” because it could be ruled to be interfering to the point that it is against federal labor law.

    […]

    Another labor expert, Harley Shaiken of the University of California-Berkeley, said, “The senator’s comments amount to economic intimidation that undermines the whole nature of union representation elections.” Shaiken often advises UAW officials. “If the senator’s statement doesn’t violate the letter of the law, it certainly violates the spirit of the law,” Shaiken said.

  108. 108
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Cervantes: Of course VW’s experience with their Pennsylvania [plant] had to figure into their thinking, but it’s simplistic to put the issues there with the union (as it always is). VW had a hit with the Rabbit, but there were more than a few issues with it. My recollection is that after a few years on the road, the ’70s Rabbit engines always sounded like the valves or the crank was about to fall out. And like nearly every car in the ’70s, they would rust out prematurely.

    VW obviously can work with unions if they want to…

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  109. 109
    Elie says:

    @Kay:

    Yes and no. I agree that some decisions with big impacts will set us back, but how do we stop doing what we can? What does it do to scream that all is lost? I think your point is valid — but it gives us nothing and ignores any possible positives we have to work from. In this case, it was a very close vote. You want to completely discount that and I don’t see how you can take on any difficult, progressive change and not bitch about it, but keep on keeping on. What alternative plan of action are you offering? Surrender?
    (I know you are not saying that)

  110. 110
    Ruckus says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet:
    Any company can work with unions if they want to. I believe that VW has figured out that working with is better than pushing against, especially in the long run. Unions are not faultless in the battle of worker pay/benefits but without them life would be much worse. As we can readily see over the last 20 years. But like my comment @Ruckus: if you don’t see any hope or only hear that unions are going to cost you the only crap job around you may lose any affinity for a union. Inequality really is the major issue in this country as it leads to so many of the others. Survival is a pretty strong trait and the overlord class has used it as a tool against everyone else to the detriment of not just our country but the world.

  111. 111
    PhilbertDesanex says:

    @La Caterina (Mrs. Johannes): “my husband makes improper practice decisions for a living” I aspire to such a position

  112. 112
    Elizabelle says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Political progress always seems to be a two steps forward one step back sort of thing and we have been in a backward stepping phase for most of my life. I think things are starting to turn though.

    I truly believe this.

    And, as Kay points out, we don’t have as healthy a middle class to cushion people’s magical thinking on this issue. The worm is turning.

  113. 113
    Elie says:

    @Ruckus:

    But remember, in this case, the anti-union victory was slim. Clearly, the message about the need for unionization was out there and there was almost a majority who supported it…

    I have to also note that VW is being just partially honest about not being anti-union. As others upstring have asked, why did they pick a southern state with right to work laws? Also, I don’t think VW and German companies in general would give a shit about workplace fairness for Americans… for Germans, yes. Americans, probably not…

  114. 114
    Kay says:

    @Elie:

    I think you have to include the bleeding that goes on in the interim as part of the cost. That’s all I’m saying. Things don’t stand still while we patiently hit them again and again.

    It’s great and a real show of persistence that we are willing to lobby for a decade for a rise in the minimum wage, but the eventual win becomes a band aid on a gaping wound with the passage of that decade. There are times you have to win, or you lose big. It’s not all an even metric of “50 wins to 51 losses, so that’s a good record”. I think it’s great that Ted Kennedy has the patience to fight for a raise in the minimum wage for years and years, but I also have to admit that all that time he was doing that, we were bleeding on wages. It’s worse than it was in 1996, which is why the losses are more profound.

  115. 115
    Thor Heyerdahl says:

    @Elie:

    I don’t think VW and German companies in general would give a shit about workplace fairness for Americans… for Germans, yes. Americans, probably not…

    I would agree with other German companies…but since the German State of Lower Saxony owns 20% of Volkswagen’s voting rights I am not so sure.

  116. 116
    Elie says:

    @Kay:

    True — we are weakened as the bandaid over a gaping wound is obvious. My question to you is – as above, what do you propose as an alternative? Your facts are correct and we have lost ground taking our victories with their imperfections and our inability to make it clear what we are losing.

    As an alternative example, do we quit pushing for equality even as we see evidence that it continues to exist and is manifest in multiple ways? Nope.

  117. 117
    PhilbertDesanex says:

    @PhilbertDesanex: no offense and all respect! .Actually I make similar decisions all the time but don’t get millions like the Owners.

  118. 118
    Ruckus says:

    @Elie:
    Yes it almost passed. That is a good thing. But almost is not the same as did. I wonder how many unionization votes were close? I’ll bet few have been blowout losses. Does that change the dynamic a lot?
    As to why VW chose TN instead of where else, there are probably a lot of reasons. Weather is one, transportation of raw materials and finished product is another. Suppliers another. Many of the auto companies no longer make all the thousands of parts that make up a car, interior for example. Workers that have some knowledge of the processes of assembly may also be an issue. It isn’t cut and dried about cheap labor, although I’m sure that is always a consideration. But they do make VW’s in Germany and their labor/benefit costs are not cheap.

  119. 119
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Ruckus: Well said. Yes, people have been beaten down so long in so many cases that they think the only choice is to curl up in a ball and take it. In individual cases, that is too often true.

    It seems to me that the only solution is a national approach by the federal government. The NLRB needs teeth, there needs to be constraints on management’s ability to influence union and political elections, and there needs to be changes to the way boards run companies (corporations aren’t management’s piggybanks). Among other things…

    As long as large companies can play states against each other, as long as it’s cheaper to ship jobs overseas and they can import the goods cheaply without paying sensible tariffs, as long as unemployment is high enough that there is no pressure to increase wages or benefits, it’s hard to image situations like this VW election changing. Yes, it was close, but objectively it shouldn’t have been. The UAW should have won.

    Look at what happened with Boeing and the battle over moving 787 production to South Carolina. They had a disaster with the 787 being years late due to outsourcing so much of the production, yet management still felt no need to work with the union and instead played hardball to squeeze the union even harder. There’s no consequences for companies to demand hundreds of millions in incentives from localities, or to squeeze their workers, or even for the management to loot the company and leave a smoking crater where a thriving enterprise once existed.

    It seems to me that only the federal government can change that dynamic.

    But that doesn’t mean the fight is pointless. Far from it.

    My $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  120. 120
    Cervantes says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: Sure, I agree.

    Before I quit, excerpts from one more article (Brent Snavely, Detroit Free Press, today):

    With Volkswagen, the union had a company that not only didn’t oppose the union, it cooperated with UAW and even allowed organizers to make presentations to employees inside the plant — a dream world scenario virtually unheard of in the U.S. these days.

    But in Tennessee, the UAW faced a workforce already happy with management and wage rates and unsure how the UAW would improve their work lives. Some workers told the Free Press uncertainty about the UAW and what it would mean drove their vote against representation.

    “You’ve got a lot of people in the middle,” said Craig Snyder, 42, of Chattanooga, who voted against organizing. “You do not know what’s going to happen.”

    Even some workers who voted for the UAW didn’t feel strongly about their decision. “I am in support of the union but if it does not go that way it really does not bother me much,” Eddie Reel, 50, of Dunlap, Tenn., said after casting his vote.

    […]

    In Chattanooga, many view the UAW – not Corker – as the outsider, even though the UAW represents workers at a General Motors plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., two hours northwest of the city.

    “The UAW is from up north,” said Lee Person, 22, of Chattanooga. “I think the UAW just wanted to move down south.” Person, a graduate student at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga who also works as a desk clerk at a hotel near the plant, said most people he knows did not want the UAW to gain an additional foothold in the region.

    […]

    “I think the close vote does give the opportunity for the UAW to challenge the election,” said Arthur Wheaton, a professor of law at Cornell University. However, Wheaton said an election challenge would be easier if it could be shown that Corker was speaking on behalf of Volkswagen.

    […]

    At Volkswagen, workers who began working for the company when the Chattanooga plant opened in 2011 make about $20 per hour. That’s essentially the same rate of pay that workers who were hired by General Motors, Ford or Chrysler after 2009 make per hour. “It’s about having a voice,” Reel said. “It’s definitely not about wages. The wages here are more than fair.”

  121. 121
    Cervantes says:

    @Ruckus:

    As to why VW chose TN instead of where else, there are probably a lot of reasons.

    VW started in 2007 with a long list (400 locations), finally narrowed it down in 2008 to 3 (in Tennessee, Alabama, and Michigan). Tennessee (including Chattanooga) offered nearly $600,000,000 in incentives. For scale, consider that VW put roughly a billion dollars into the plant.

    (And yes, there might have been other reasons for the choice.)

  122. 122
    Ruckus says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet:
    Yes. The overlord class expects everyone else to not only support them but to way over support them and be happy about it, no matter their fuck ups. People with no way into the overlord class have to suck it up or fight back. Fighting back never gets much traction until things get so bad for so many that they are left with little choice. I fear we are approaching that point. We had a major recession caused by overlord class fuck ups but they bailed each other out with our money. And none of the fuck ups has changed their behavior. Why should they? On of the worst just got a 74% raise. Talk about pay for performance. The rest of us have had to figure out how to get by. Or not. But the overlords haven’t had to do shit.

  123. 123
    AxelFoley says:

    @eric:

    Exhibit A against the power of the bully pulpit in general. These workers have so accepted the GOP line about unions that they voted against their own interests. No amount of telling them like it is would get them to see the folly of this vote. Horse, water, just not drinking. This is the goal of FOX news and the think tanks. not just policy but indoctrination of the lower class to accept what is best for the upper class as best for the lower class itself.

    Sums it all up.

  124. 124
    Ruckus says:

    @Cervantes:
    I wrote a comment about football/baseball stadiums but I didn’t like how it sounded but there is the same rank odor of private industry using tax abatement. At least the auto factories will be paying relative larger and consistent local wages to be taxed. So the local economy stands a better chance of being enhanced.
    Thanks for pointing the tax issues out that is probably a more important issue than wages will ever be.

  125. 125
    AxelFoley says:

    @rikyrah:

    when will you learn…

    the working class Southern White will ALWAYS vote against his own economic interest.

    which is why I continue to say fuck ‘em.

    Same here.

    These are the descendants of people who fought a war so that rich white people could keep their FREE labor while their poor white asses struggled.

    FUCK. THEM.

  126. 126
    AxelFoley says:

    @Mike in NC:

    @PurpleGirl: Southerns are also anti-Union (see “1861″).

    What you did there–I see it.

  127. 127
    IM says:

    @AxelFoley:

    Yes, Volkswagen should have a tried a Gewerkschaft.

  128. 128
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    It is pretty remarkable how ingrained anti-union thinking is in the South. Corker and the state-level thugs were just tapping into that rich vein of learned serfdom.

  129. 129
    Matt says:

    @rikyrah:

    I’d be all in favor of that – the problem is that “their interest” also includes “not letting the planet be made uninhabitable by AGW”, and I’m stuck sharing a PLANET with these assholes while they keep voting for Jeebus and racism.

  130. 130
    Cervantes says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: Oh, and about this:

    UNITED AUTO OBAMA WORKERS
    The UAW spends millions to elect liberal politicians
    including BARACK OBAMA. – workerfreedom.org

    They are one of Grover Norquist’s entities, and they have some other good slogans, including “UAW Wants Your Guns” (on the theory that because the UAW supports politician X who happens to oppose the NRA … well, you see).

  131. 131
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Kay:

    I really do loathe Grover Norquist. The idea that this life-long lobbyist and political operative who has been making a living doing this shit since he was 28 years old is a respectable person in media and among elite people in DC is a fucking travesty.

    He is a notoriously creepy fucker, would never win an election for anything other than County Creepy Fucker, and yet he controls large parts of the political discourse. I despise people like Norquist and Bill Kristol far more than even the worst elected GOPer.

  132. 132
    Elizabelle says:

    Steve Pearlstein column at WaPost; he’s got an interesting take. The autoworkers, Volkswagen and the new, new South

    There is delicious irony, along with a generous dollop of hypocrisy, in the desperate efforts of business leaders and free-market conservatives to prevent 1,500 blue-collar workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., from forming a union.

    … Bill Haslam, the Republican governor of Tennessee, offered a more nuanced and plausible argument against unionization when I spoke with him last week.

    In the competition with Mexico for the new SUV line, he explained, Chattanooga suffers from not having the logistical advantage of a deep supplier network. So over the past year, he’s been trying to convince suppliers to open facilities nearby. Without naming them, he said that more than a few of the non-unionized suppliers have told him in no uncertain terms that they would refuse to come if VW unionizes. This reluctance stems from the curious notion that unionization is like a dangerous virus that is spread by close contact.

    While I have no doubt of the rabid anti-union feelings of some auto parts pashas, it’s hard to believe there aren’t sufficient number of other firms, union and non-union, that would jump at the opportunity to become a long-term supplier to one of the world’s largest auto manufacturers. That’s what happened at a UAW-organized General Motors plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. — an old Saturn facility that reopened after the recent bankruptcy — where dozens of union and non-union parts suppliers have now located nearby. Apparently things are going well enough at Spring Hill that GM recently announced it would invest another $350 million and add 1,800 new jobs.

  133. 133
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Cervantes: Good catch.

    I wonder how different the world would be without the 20-50 people who seem to drive the political discourse on the right. It really is a small world…

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  134. 134
    Kay says:

    @Elizabelle:

    I’m glad, because a labor outlet, In These Times, pointed out that Corker was full of shit during the election when they posted video of him bragging about the GM plant while AT the GM plant, so it’s good it’s getting wider play.

    I don’t agree that this is a political win for him. He inserted himself very far into this, and I don’t think that generally sits well with most people, no matter which side they’re on. He may be a big hero to Grover Norquist and the conservative internet crowd, but that comes with risk that he’s perceived as using these workers for larger goals and a larger agenda.

  135. 135
    Kay says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    I despise people like Norquist and Bill Kristol far more than even the worst elected GOPer.

    Me too, but you have to blame media too. Norquist could labor at his chosen craft in relative obscurity yet they choose to give him a platform to pontificate on everything from manufacturing to health care. He’s a lobbyist. They made him a celebrity.

    I think we need a crawl under these people to reveal who they work for. I’m perfectly willing to make this bipartisan. I know who Richard Trumka works for. Who made Grover Norquist a millionaire? Who pays him now? Just put up his employers under his face on cable. They can add Ed Rendell’s employers and Harold Ford’s while they’re at it. A scrolling crawl of names. People can’t make good decisions without information. That’s information they need. I know who pays “union bosses” and I know what they advocate for. What’s left unsaid is who these other people work for. There’s this ridiculous fiction that labor people are “self-interested” and the huge anti-labor coalition are operating purely from principled ideological positions. It’s bullshit. They’re all getting paid, and only one side admits it. “Union bosses” should cop to self-interest only if this is reciprocal and we’re clear on who works for whom, and who is getting paid. The answer is “both sides”.

  136. 136
    Elizabelle says:

    @Kay:

    Yeah, this might have been short-term gain and long-term problem for the estimable Senator Corker.

    It does pay to think of the supply chain and developing economies of agglomeration.

    Lotta short-term thinking here, to prop up the power and social structure.

  137. 137
    Elizabelle says:

    @Kay:

    Good point. I wonder how hard it would be to find out who precisely is paying these media shills.

    Thinking the money might come from shell corp hidden in shell corp, the better to muddy the connection to the Koch Brothers [name your favorite plutocrat or “social welfare” organization here].

  138. 138
    Kay says:

    @Elizabelle:

    The smartest thing the labor people did in Ohio with the public employee fight there was leave politicians out of it. The Right had DC people and Kasich and Mitt Romney, and labor was able to be “the people in Ohio”. It made a huge difference, because people dig in and settle into their accustomed partisan groove when it’s Democrats versus Republicans in this state. I could get even Republicans mad by telling them Liz Cheney was running a lobby group out of VA that was sending out mailings. They thought it was none of her goddamned business.

    Of course, TN is different, it’s lopsided, not 50/50 like this state, so Corker can play the R and D thing to his advantage, but I still think he was way too far into this. By the end he was basically issuing threats.

  139. 139
    rikyrah says:

    @Kay:

    Go Kay!!

    tell the truth.

  140. 140
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Thor Heyerdahl: We’ll all blame Clinton, and NAFTA. Equal opportunity.

  141. 141
    Cervantes says:

    @Kay:

    I don’t agree that this is a political win for him.

    You may well be right — but remember that Corker, before becoming a Senator, was mayor of Chattanooga for four years, and while mayor, was responsible for developing the very site where VW then located its plant. Here’s part of a contemporaneous article from The Tennessean (“Fahrvergnügen, y’all. VW picks Chattanooga,” G. Chambers Williams III, July 16, 2008):

    Victory for Corker

    U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who was mayor of Chattanooga when the Enterprise South site was first developed at the location of the former Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant, was on hand for Tuesday’s announcement, and played a key role in wooing Volkswagen officials. “I first heard from them in Washington in November, and we’ve been working with them ever since to try to persuade them to build their plant in Chattanooga,” he said in an interview after the announcement.

    Volkswagen officials called him Friday morning to inform him that Chattanooga was going to be recommended to the automaker’s supervisory board on Tuesday as the preferred location for the plant, he said. “I was so overwhelmed that I just choked up,” he said. “I represent the entire state, but this is something really close to home for me. It’s more than manufacturing; the ripple effect of this will be significant for Chattanooga and all of Tennessee. This is just a huge, huge thing.”

    So, Corker is credited with convincing VW to enter Tennessee in the first place. A few other car companies had been approached before VW and they had all rejected Tennessee. When VW signed up, it was a big win for Corker’s reputation and credibility. This was his baby, one might even say.

    He inserted himself very far into this, and I don’t think that generally sits well with most people, no matter which side they’re on. He may be a big hero to Grover Norquist and the conservative internet crowd, but that comes with risk that he’s perceived as using these workers for larger goals and a larger agenda.

    In your view, who is going to punish Corker, and why?

    (Bear in mind, my own opinion of Corker does not enter into it; but I do remember fondly, 20 years ago, Bill Frist’s campaign manager referring to Corker as “pond scum,” “rotten on the inside,” and a coward. Frist, when asked about it, said he wasn’t sure what pond scum was.)

  142. 142
    rikyrah says:

    @Bob In Portland:

    This is the reason why my sister in Florida would vote for Jeb over a Dem even though Jeb privatized her job six months before retirement.

    And I would continue to have no pity for them.

    I am never amazed at the stupidity of the White working class…they’ve been played and been voting against their own economic self-interest for generations.

  143. 143
    Cervantes says:

    @Kay:

    There’s this ridiculous fiction that labor people are “self-interested” and the huge anti-labor coalition are operating purely from principled ideological positions.

    Reminds me of what I found to be the most wondrous argument that befell those poor workers at VW last week: that even if they and the company thought unionizing wouldn’t be a bad idea for them, they should still vote against it for the good of the larger community.

    Wondrous, no?

  144. 144
    Cervantes says:

    @rikyrah:

    I am never amazed at the stupidity of the White working class

    You know, lots of people make statements such as this one. (The color varies, of course.)

  145. 145
    Chris says:

    @Cervantes:

    Yes, I do love how “self-interest” suddenly becomes a bad thing when people they don’t like do it in ways they don’t approve of, like unionizing.

  146. 146
    Tripod says:

    @Cervantes:

    The UAW failed to answer “what’s in it for me?”. Outside of ideological or macro-economic abstractions, the answer was not much. It seems like a free rider problem as much as anything. As long as some portion of the sector (or company) is unionized, everybody benefits without realizing why. It must be my mad skillz….

  147. 147
    Kay says:

    @Cervantes:

    It’s really a disturbing story the more one reads on it. Here’s two things that really bothered me.

    1. VW has worker’s councils in every place they are except two: the US and China. That really makes me want to wave the flag and, I don’t know, start a small business here in the land of opportunity.

    2. There is something called “Americanization” in manufacturing that manufacturers like VW wish to avoid in their own countries. I assume this is related to The American Plan where everyone except managers make 12 dollars an hour, which leads to a decline in demand for their products.

    I mean, honestly. Can we stop now, or are we just hell-bent on attaining developing nation status? At some point you can’t keep selling aspirational goals for the “next generation”. They’re here now. They’re five years old, and they live with their parents who make 15 dollars an hour.

  148. 148
    Cervantes says:

    @Tripod: Yes, I agree.

    On the bright side, even if the UAW did lose yesterday, union membership grew more (25%) in Tennessee last year than in any other state. Georgia and Alabama were close behind at 22%.

    So there’s that.

  149. 149
    Cervantes says:

    @Kay: Re “Americanization” in manufacturing, there is an earlier — and almost opposite — meaning: when Henry Ford wanted immigrant workers at his factories to adopt and conform to a new and ideal “life-style” (or else), he created what he called “Americanization Schools.”

  150. 150
    another Holocene human says:

    @Glocksman: wow, an attempted raid story in which the Teamsters aren’t the dickbags.

    I needed that. It’s good to have balance.

  151. 151
    another Holocene human says:

    @Suffern ACE: Payment by check or something other than employer controlled debit or banking situation? That ship sailed years ago in Florida. Welcome to the Plantation.

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