Tag Archives: Gov. Bill Haslam

A Messy Fight In Tennessee Over Volkswagen’s Union Vote


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.

Tennessee Democrats are hitting back and held a press conference earlier this week. (subscription)

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?

And Autoegocrat has more at Left Wing Cracker.

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?

Sunday Brunch – #HashtagEdition

Coming to a State Capitol Near You!

Coming to a State Capitol Near You!

Some big news Saturday…

The White House announced that President Barack Obama would be making a stop in Nashville, Thursday, January 30th.

Details of the visit haven’t been released just yet, but initial reports say he’ll be in the state to talk about jobs…an important topic in a state that has an unemployment rate higher than the national average (81.% vs. 7.3%) and a poverty rate that is expanding instead of contracting (17.3% up from 13.5% in 2010).

The news was met with some propagandizing from Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who apparently is unaware that the unemployment rate in her district is higher than the national average (9% vs 7.3%) and so is poverty (16.3% vs. 14.9%)…both of which have only been expanding since she was elected in 2002. It says something about a politician when they trumpet their state’s “Thriving Economy” yet ignore the basic facts about the area they represent. #sadtrombone

Even without the President’s announced visit, this week had some big events coming…here’s a list of things that are coming up…and some stuff you may have missed during your weekend merriment:

In the News

The Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act is back thanks to State Rep. Gloria Johnson.
Apparently Mike Huckabee likes flip-flops more than regular shoes. Who knew?
Those big education test score gains may have been seriously oversold.
Some consultants say Memphis should adopt a “pay-as-you-throw” sanitation system…and all this happens as two high ranking officials in the city resigned…one of which was in charge of curbside garbage pickup.
Gary Odom proposes a cigarette tax to fund TennCare expansion (as a smoker, I’m cool with this).
The government closest to the people is an inconvenience for state legislators/gun advocates.
Gov. Haslam ain’t buying Kelsey’s voucher bill.
Democrat Lenda Sherrell is running against Scott DesJarlais in the TN-04 race.
Unions in Tennessee saw major growth in membership over the past year.

Mark your calendar

Monday – Tennesseans ReclaimingEducational Excellence (TREE) is hosting an event highlighting misguided education reforms, featuring Elaine Weiss, National Coordinator, Broader, Bolder Approach to Education.
Tuesday – At 9pm (ET) the President will deliver his State of the Union address.

And of course, the Tennessee General Assembly will continue its assault on the state Tuesday.

Enjoy what’s left of your Sunday…STP will be back in full effect Monday morning!

Medicaid Expansion: It’s all about politics…

Some more news on the Medicaid Expansion front yesterday.

State Sen. Lowe Finney (D-Jackson) informed us in a release yesterday that Gov. Haslam’s decision to not expand Medicaid in Tennessee will cost small businesses $72 million in tax penalties.

How Much Money will we give away?

How Much Money will we give away?

Way to run government like a business Gov. Haslam! Not only are you costing the state money…you’re costing employers money as well. That’s some economic miracle you’ve put together there! /snark

While some in the State Senate are looking for ways to patch the political stalemate, big time financial guys are bewildered at the state’s political leader’s fealty to what amounts to nothing more than political position.

The end result is rural hospitals, who will start feeling the pain first when uncompensated care payments are cut, are going to have to put pressure on rural politicians who will at first fight, then yield, then trumpet their achievement from the top of the highest hill as the savior of the local hospital…

In the mean time, Tennessee has given up over $57,000,000 dollars since January 1st thanks to the decision to not expand Medicaid.