Why are elected officials, big players in Tennessee politics, interfering with the union vote at Volkswagon?
There are some questions about whether or not recent statements, especially from Sen. Bob Corker, are appropriate.
From the Chicago Tribune:
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.
Gary Casteel, UAW regional director for a 12-state area that includes Tennessee, said on Wednesday night, “Corker’s statement is in direct contradiction to Volkswagen’s statements.
“They have specifically said that this vote will have no bearing on the decision of where to place the new product.”
In the past, Casteel has said that Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant, opened in 2011, needs a second product to survive. It has built the compact Passat sedan since it opened.
The plant has about 1,550 Volkswagen workers eligible to vote in the election, which is supervised by the National Labor Relations Board.
Pro- and anti-UAW workers said they were not sure if snowy weather will affect turnout for the vote, which ends on Friday when the plant does not produce cars.
.There seems to be more to this story than what appears, and when Sen. Bo Watson cites that incentives could be pulled by state government, it just gets, what is the word … weirder.
House Democrats expressed astonishment Monday that Gov. Bill Haslam and other Tennessee Republicans would threaten to pull economic incentives for Volkswagen if its Chattanooga factory seeks union representation for its workers.
“It’s almost unprecedented in this country,” said Mike Turner, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “This is a very bad precedent to set.”
Turner and other Democratic lawmakers called a press conference Monday to say they were “stunned” that Republicans in government would attempt to interfere with agreements made involving private businesses. They said they feared the move would dissuade future businesses from coming to Tennessee.
I guess my question is why would the GOP pick a very public fight that has caught the attention of the national media with an international company that has brought 1,500 jobs to east Tennessee?
First of all, company unions were outlawed in the United States in 1935. You might expect a U.S. senator to know that already, but in Corker’s case you would be wrong. Volkswagen might also expect a U.S. lawmaker who is presuming to tell them how to do business in Tennessee would be conversant in the relevant laws and statutes, and they would also be wrong.
Secondly, BMW has done no such thing, for the reason outlined above: it would be illegal. Let me reiterate that Senator Corker told a reporter that a company operating in the United States was conducting its business in violation of the law. When asked about this, Corker responded:
It’s not illegal. As a matter of fact, I don’t want to debate this, because this is a debate for lawyers, but I believe that it’s easier to create a German-style works council without a union.Gee, if only the senator had someone handy who understood the law.
So what the hell is going on that this fight would be so public and messy? Leaders are picking a fight with a huge employer who has brought jobs to this state and it isn’t passing the smell test. What’s really going on?