Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor
Last week, Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee “ramped up his anti-union rhetoric” in hopes of persuading workers at Volkswagen AG’s plant in Chattanooga to vote against representation by the United Auto Workers. According to Reuters, on February 12th, Corker said he had been “assured” that if workers at the Volkswagen plant in his hometown rejected representation by UAW, the company would “reward the plant with a new product to build.” Bernie Woodall of Reuters said that Corker dropped that “bombshell” on the “first of a three-day secret ballot election of blue-collar workers” at the Chattanooga plant. The most troubling part—as I see it—is that Corker’s claim actually ran “counter to public statements by Volkswagen…”
The following day, Corker said that he was “very certain that if the UAW is voted down,” the automaker would announce new investment in the plant “in the next couple weeks.” It seems Corker hadn’t heard—or chose to ignore—a statement made earlier 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 officials acknowledged “their desire for a works council, arguing that their model of labor-management relations serves them well in every other country in the world, except China.” Under U.S. law, however, the company would not be able to “set up a works council without first having its employees vote for a union.”
The UAW “was dealt a stinging defeat” when a majority of employees at the Chattanooga facility voted against joining the union “after a high-profile opposition campaign led by Republican politicians and outside political groups.” According to the Washington Post, the auto union’s loss “came in spite of an unprecedented level of support from the company being organized.” Fischer who had actually “encouraged the idea of starting a German-style ‘works council’ at the plant, like those in place at Volkswagen’s other factories'” apparently was “saddened by the outcome.”
Fisher speaking after the union vote (Washington Post):
“Our employees have not made a decision that they are against a works council. Throughout this process, we found great enthusiasm for the idea of an American-style works council both inside and outside our plant,” Fischer said, reading from a statement. “Our goal continues to be to determine the best method for establishing a works council in accordance with the requirements of U.S. labor law to meet VW America’s production needs and serve our employees’ interests.”
Gary Casteel, organizer for the UAW’s Southern Region, said, “Unfortunately, politically motivated third parties threatened the economic future of this facility and the opportunity for workers to create a successful operating model that would grow jobs in Tennessee.”
Casteel was making reference to anti-union remarks made by “Tennessee’s Republican lawmakers, who threatened to withhold tax incentives from Volkswagen if the workers unionized, and attention from D.C.-based activist Grover Norquist.” UAW officials said they noticed that workers began “to turn against the union as they started hearing ‘threats and intimidation’ against the company.”
It appears that the Chattanooga auto workers may have made a big mistake when they rejected UAW membership last week. According to Huffington Post, theirs is the only “Volkswagen plant worldwide without a formal mechanism for workers’ representation.”
The German “co-determination” model mandates works councils, which connect employees to management, at all large German companies. Following the union vote, the head of Volkswagen’s works council told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung that the automaker would hesitate to expand in the U.S. South.
“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,” said works council leader Bernd Osterloh.
“If co-determination isn’t guaranteed in the first place, we as workers will hardly be able to vote in favor” of building another plant in the right-to-work South, Osterloh added.
UAW chief says Bob Corker intimidated workers at Chattanooga Volkswagen plant
Now, thanks to Senator Bob Corker and others who spoke out against UAW representation for workers at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant it looks like the company probably won’t be rewarding the facility with any “new product” manufacturing there…or anywhere else in the “right-to-work South.”
Turns Out Anti-Union Volkswagen Workers May Have Screwed Themselves And The South (Huffington Post)
Did Bob Corker Taint The UAW’s Volkswagen Union Election? And If So, Will He Get Away With It? Turns Out Anti-Union Volkswagen Workers May Have Screwed Themselves And The South (Huffington Post)
As Volkswagen workers vote, Tennessee senator ramps up anti-union talk (Reuters)
VW workers may block southern U.S. deals if no unions: labor chief (Reuters)
U.S. senator drops bombshell during VW plant union vote (Reuters)
Auto union loses historic election at Volkswagen plant in Tennessee (Washington Post)
All eyes on Chattanooga: VW’s workers are deciding the future of unions in the South (Washington Post)
204 thoughts on “Did Sen. Bob Corker’s Anti-Union Rhetoric Hurt Prospects for Expansion at the Chattanooga Volkswagen Plant in Tennessee?”
Repeal of Glass-Steagall Caused the Financial Crisis
The repeal of the law separating commercial and investment banking caused the 2008 financial crisis.
By James Rickards
(James Rickards is a hedge fund manager in New York City and the author of Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis)
The oldest propaganda technique is to repeat a lie emphatically and often until it is taken for the truth. Something like this is going on now with regard to banks and the financial crisis. The big bank boosters and analysts who should know better are repeating the falsehood that repeal of Glass-Steagall had nothing to do with the Panic of 2008.
In fact, the financial crisis might not have happened at all but for the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall law that separated commercial and investment banking for seven decades. If there is any hope of avoiding another meltdown, it’s critical to understand why Glass-Steagall repeal helped to cause the crisis. Without a return to something like Glass-Steagall, another greater catastrophe is just a matter of time…
In 1999, Democrats led by President Bill Clinton and Republicans led by Sen. Phil Gramm joined forces to repeal Glass-Steagall at the behest of the big banks. What happened over the next eight years was an almost exact replay of the Roaring Twenties. Once again, banks originated fraudulent loans and once again they sold them to their customers in the form of securities. The bubble peaked in 2007 and collapsed in 2008. The hard-earned knowledge of 1933 had been lost in the arrogance of 1999.
Elaine M. I think that it is quite interesting that you failed to note the authors book, Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis and his contrarian belief of what he stated in his article. He contends that if the proper elements of Glass Steagall Act are not restored, it will cause another Global Crisis.
Is it going to be the lack of greater regulation of banking and finance, or the currency wars that causes they next Global Crisis???? He needs to make up his mind.
Elaine, there are at least ten major issued and numerous others that caused the melt down of 2008. Sadly, not one of them has been corrected. It’s going to happen again and what triggers it will only be a single or a few cards within the house of card.
FYI. To give you the correct answer, ask the victims of Bernie Madoff and the host of other ponzy schemers over the last two decades, how well the Federal and State governments did at protecting them, even with the already existing massive amounts of regulation in our society.
Skip: Ummm, ok, sure; whatever.
Glass-Steagall was passed in the wake of the Great Depression, as one of thre measures designed to even out the disparities of unfettered capitalism. Having assured the savings deposits of depositors through FDIC ( a gift to banks), G-S basically prohibited investment bankers from gambling with those deposits, which were now insured by the taxpayers. G-S still allowed investment bankers to go to the race track with investment funds, deposits made for the purpose of gambling on market ventures by those who understood and approved of the risks.
In other words, risk was perfectly fine as long as investors knew what they were getting into. And as Elizabeth Warren points out, it was primarily responsible for preventing market crashes for fifty years until its repeal.
Bill Clinton signed the law written by Phil Graham, in consultation with his wife, a banking executive, repealing Glass-Steagall.
Sen. Corker Defends His Volkswagen Claims, Blames Lack of SUV Line on UAW
BY MIKE ELK AND COLE STANGLER
Last week, the United Auto Workers union filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board after losing an election at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, alleging that anti-UAW comments from Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and other prominent state Republicans amounted to “outside interference.”
Corker’s statements, in particular—which suggested the planned expansion of the plant could be at risk depending on the outcome of the election—were cited by the UAW as leading many workers to vote against unionization.
But now the senator is backpedalling. In an interview with Working In These Times on Thursday, Corker said he was only trying to counter intimidation on the part of the union.
“The UAW was telling all the folks inside the plant that the only way the plant would expand would be if the UAW was successful in organizing the plant,” Corker says. “And so I just wanted to make sure that employees knew that Chattanooga was still going to be number one if they didn’t.”
The senator toed a similar line in an interview with CNBC on Tuesday.
Corker, however, never raised these motivations when he spoke out earlier this month about how the election could impact new work coming to the factory…
Corker, who served as mayor of Chattanooga from 2001 to 2005, has repeatedly declined to reveal the source of his purported information about the plant’s expansion. If the source was within VW, that could provide grounds for the UAW to file an unfair labor practice charge.
When pressed by Working In These Times as to whether his source was a Volkswagen representative, Corker cited a “whole host of people both in and outside of the company that I’m constantly in contact with.”
“Believe me,” Corker said, “I would never say anything that I didn’t believe to be 100 percent true.”
But for Byron Spencer, Corker’s word isn’t good enough. “The union was voted [upon] and we have no SUV,” says Spencer. “I think it is quite obvious who is lying here.”
Skip: There really isn’t plenty of regulation. Starting with Reagan’s declaration that risk is good, through the repeal of Glass-Steagall, there has been a steady elimination of rules and laws that the financial sector is obligated to follow.
What you should understand, buddyboy, is that the new global trade agreement, which is headed for a fast track near you, is going to set the stage for the virtual enslavement of 99% of the human race. You heard it here first.
RTC – Agree with you on the global trade agreement but I believe 99% of the human race is already enslaved, they just don’t know it. Just go down the list of the usurpations of individual rights in this country and around the world for your proof. Let’s not forget the constant abrogations of the Constitution by the oligarchs, which allows such usurpations.
I disagree that the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act caused the current problems. That is Democrat/government/oligarch meme to disguise the real culprit, The Federal Reserve Act, the 5th platform of communism. In my opinion the Glass Steagall Act was unconstitutional in the first place, as was the Federal Reserve Act.
If I can remember Glass Steagall was repealed to bail out the Savings & Loans throughout America, who got into financial difficulties because of rising interest rates caused by the bankers Viet Nam war, because the were holding long term low interest rate loans, and couldn’t make up the spreads to get more money to lend out. I didn’t look it up so it could have been another enactment that accomplished this.
FDR had it right on public sector unions.
Bron: “yes it is, he is all for private sector unions. But I think he would also be against the heavy handedness of government concerning government support for unions. The employers have rights as well and many times their rights are stepped on by government in support of unions.”
If this comment had anything to do with anything, I’d respond, but this has not one single thing to do anything in the original blog entry nor anything I’ve said.
The government didn’t get involved in this vote; Corker did. The employer actually favors a union because it’s an arrangement that works well for them back in Germany. BTW, Germany’s economy is doing much, much better than ours…and they take all of August off.
Did you and Nick go to school together, cause both of you seem to be reading a different story here. Or are you reading the talking points from Fox?
Skip : You asked, ” In your opinion, how can any single politician such as Corker really cause a company like VW to want to move to another State?”
My answer is that Corker didn’t cause VW to do anything according to this story. He caused enough poorly educated, low information voters to cast a an ill-advised vote against union representation. The outcome of that vote will likely VW to build a plant in another state, probably because it’s a German company and the Germans prefer to work with intelligent workers. (Also, because they value worker’s councils, but it’s basically the same difference.)
You’re not much better than Nick in reading comprehension.
You also sed: “If you know where there are any true free market, let me know, I and millions of others will be packing ours bags.”
It’s called Somalia, and I once suggested you could move there if you thought things were so bad here. You seemed pretty indignant about it, but if your ready to go, by all means, don’t let the door hit you in the ass.
You’re bamboozled alright. You ask: “Remember how the crash was blamed on government’s insistence on promoted sub prime lending.”
I remember you and Dinkeldoo2575 claiming it was the government’s insistence, but subprime lending was driven by the Federal Reserve, a quasi-government institution that serves the interests of the financial sector, banks and Wall St. The housing bubble and subsequent meltdown was rigged; there’s more regulation in horseracing. Corker is one of the guys who helped stack the deck and he’s still at it.
Can I help you pack?
RTC, wrote “I remember you and Dinkeldoo2575 claiming it was the government’s insistence, but subprime lending was driven by the Federal Reserve, a quasi-government institution that serves the interests of the financial sector, banks and Wall St. The housing bubble and subsequent meltdown was rigged; there’s more regulation in horseracing. Corker is one of the guys who helped stack the deck and he’s still at it.”
That is what I was trying to imply. There’s plenty of regulation RTC, they just don’t follow it and everyone, including government prosecutors are often afraid to go up against them. They are the ones controlling the strings and those in both the private sector (Big Business and Government) are either cronies or puppets.
In this country if you want to borrow any significant amount of money, to do any significant level of business, you must get approval by the central bankers. Remember, the various boards of the FRB are made up the people who run the major member banks. They know every major transaction that goes on using US Dollars, not only in the country but around the world.
I was trying to make sure everyone understands this. As far as the main stream media blaming subprime lending, that is true. They even tried to blame the appraisers. People were standing in line to buy houses, so there were more comparable sales then we needed. The put out memes like this to keep the Citizens from understanding who is really pulling the strings.
yes it is, he is all for private sector unions. But I think he would also be against the heavy handedness of government concerning government support for unions. The employers have rights as well and many times their rights are stepped on by government in support of unions.
Yes I know, I think Friedman is not for public sector unions but in favor of private sector unions.
The union debate steps on a good many toes, freedom of association, private property rights, government force, etc. The government is pretty heavy handed with employers concerning unions.
Bron : VW is a private sector company. Whaddya know.
The UAW is a private sector union.
I think Friedman is talking about private sector unions.
RTC, All threads evolve, devolve, meander, etc. It’s curious you chose me to ridicule? But, thanks for the lecture. “Carry on” as someone used to love to say.
Nick: Again you demonstrate a deficiency in reading comprehension; I didn’t say you were an idiot, I said you sounded like an idiot for missing the point being made in this blog entry – that it was Corker, and not “fat-cat union bosses”, who helped create the likelihood of VW relocating to another state.
Furthermore, I was hopeful that by rereading the blog entry, you could improve upon your contributions here, although if I were to lay odds, you probably won’t do any better than your usual knee-jerk reactions to union labor.
To point out, as a matter of fact, it was Milton Friedman, the godfather of free rackets – or free markets, as you might call them – who declared in his book, “Capitalism and Freedom”, that unions are essential to a free market. Essential. Not helpful or convenient, but essential. As in air, water, food, and shelter are essential for human survival, but maybe essential means something different to you. You have a dictionary can borrow?
RTC – In your opinion, how can any single politician such as Corker really cause a company like VW to want to move to another State? Most businesspeople aren’t stupid and probably try to ignore politicians such as Corker, unless they’re gaming the system. Additionally, it’s the States that try to entice business with all sort of incentives and it’s often almost a bidding war. I was also under the impression that VW and other German companies are known for taking better care of their employees than American companies but I’m not sure on that.
And yes, your correct, most libertarians such as Friedman, believe voluntary associations such as unions are essential to a free market, but understand, in a true free market, there would be no public unions. FYI: If you know where there are any true free market, let me know, I and millions of others will be packing ours bags.
Interesting that it appears that with the central banking (BIS) members controlled economies, there is the least amount of capitalism and the greatest amounts of fascism/socialism. Boy, do they have so many people bamboozled.
Remember how the crash was blamed on government’s insistence on promoted sub prime lending. During the same period, many countries around the world suffered from the same basic situation, a major real estate bubble. All the governments of the world did the same thing that caused their economies to bubble???? No, the central bankers, knew damn well, they were giving loans to people who couldn’t afford them, all up and down the wealth spectrum, both residential and commercial. It wasn’t just the poor. The question is, was it premeditated? I think it was, just as I think the 1st depression was premeditated, but that is a post for anther day. Perhaps much like a pump and dump and a poop and scoop in a stock play, both illegal of course.
Jersey is, I believe, the only state that doesn’t ALLOW people to pump their own gas. It’s called the Public Education Full Employment Act[PEFEA]. And your point is perfect, Darren. The Fed and State govt. laws cover stuff like this.
“Their grievances…included…insufficient clothing for cold weather”
Wages are one thing but the lack of warm clothing? An employer has to be a real SOB to neglect employees like that. The state labor agency should have slapped the company upside the head for that.
After UAW Loss In Chattanooga, Retail Union Notches Victory Over Tennessee’s Haslam Family
WASHINGTON — Gov. Bill Haslam (R) and other Tennessee Republicans scored a major victory earlier this month when the United Auto Workers lost their closely watched bid to unionize a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. But less than two weeks after they would have celebrated the UAW vote count, the powerful Haslam family lost a more personal, albeit smaller, face-off with organized labor.
On Monday, workers at a Pilot Flying J gas station and rest stop in Bloomsbury, N.J., voted in favor of union representation by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. The station is one of more than 500 Pilot Flying J locations around the country and part of the Haslam family business, which the governor helped to build. The company’s chief executive officer is Bill Haslam’s brother, Jimmy, who’s also the majority owner of the Cleveland Browns.
Charles Hall, president of RWDSU Local 108, said management at the gas station strongly opposed the workers unionizing. But the final vote count was 12-to-7 in favor and the results were ratified by the National Labor Relations Board, according to Hall.
“They didn’t bring in the governor, but they sure brought the pressure to this one Flying J,” Hall said. “It’s a victory for the workers. It’s a sign that workers around the country are getting tired and can fight back. And the way you can do that is through unionization.”
Most of the workers in the bargaining unit are cashiers, gas pump attendants and maintenance workers. Their grievances, according to Hall, included low pay, fluctuating job duties and insufficient clothing for cold weather (New Jersey gas stations are full-service).
“They feel like they weren’t being treated with a great deal of respect,” Hall said. “They wanted the company to share success with them.”
RTC, Those days of epithets are over on this “bog.”
Nick spinelli: Go back to the top and reread the bog entry and start over. Otherwise, you come across like an idiot.
You can do better.
Yes the rich want their yachts lifted while the underclass’ keep their leaky rowboats down in the lagoon. A rising tide doesn’t lift all boats when the tide waters never make it to the lagoon.
Comments are closed.