Nov 28 2010
07:50 am

Chattanooga Times Free Press:

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.


"At Volkswagen Chattanooga, the employees will decide for themselves about their representation," [Guenther Scherelis, Volkswagen Group of America Inc.'s general manager of communication] said in an e-mail.

WhitesCreek's picture

That Senator Bob...

Always for the working man!



Bob Corker another anti union REPUBLICAN.

Rachel's picture

The last time I looked, in

The last time I looked, in the United States neither Corker nor Volkswagen get to decide if the plant is unionized. That's up to the workers.

marytheprez's picture

Rarely are unions "up to the workers"

OH, Rachel, if only that were true! The company OWNERS must agree to allow a union come in to hold an election of the workers! This is why most coal companies today DO NOT Allow union organizers near their mines...used to, it was different, but Corporate goons like Corker have refused to allow unions. If Massey Coal had allowed unions, we would not have lost 29 miners, because with union membership comes REGULATIONS, safety inspections, and FAIR wages and benefits.
Corker is just another GOP suck up to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the TN Chamber of Commerce and the powerful anti- union lobbies.
I know real union organizers...who put their lives on the line every day to promote union membership.

michael kaplan's picture

well said, mary

well said, mary

Rachel's picture

Union election process

fischbobber's picture

A few things have changed

A few things have changed since 1999.

bizgrrl's picture

Yes, that's what the VW

Yes, that's what the VW spokesman said. Too bad Corker, an elected official representing the people, doesn't feel the same way.

michael kaplan's picture

nissan workers in smyrna came

nissan workers in smyrna came very close to unionizing, but the company, if i recall, used a variety of measures to dissuade the majority. so what VW said doesn't necessarily mean they are pro-union. it will be an interesting issue to follow, though.

October 3, 2001: Calling today's loss at Nissan a "setback for Nissan workers," UAW President Stephen P. Yokich said, "the fact remains that in the global economy, Nissan workers still need and deserve the seat at the decision-making table that only a union can provide. That's why Nissan workers and other workers can continue to count on the UAW's support in their efforts to unionize and build brighter futures for themselves and their families."

bobbylife's picture

I question your statement.

but the company, if i recall, used a variety of measures to dissuade the majority.

What were among the "variety of measures" used by Nissan to dissuade the "majority"? Workers have the right to organize. Management has to be extremely circumspect about how they discuss organizing with workers. Taking "measures" to thwart organizing is illegal. You seem to be suggesting that Nissan has at least acted improperly, if not illegally, which is a very serious allegation. Is that what you're suggesting? Got some evidence?

michael kaplan's picture

there are many articles

there are many articles online about the 'measures' nissan used. you can research this yourself.

“There can be no doubt,” King continued, “that Nissan management’s law breaking and campaign of fear and intimidation offers dramatic proof of the tremendous obstacles workers must overcome in the face of a hostile employer.”

“Most people think that union elections are just like the votes American citizens all know for elected officials and ballot propositions,” King explained. “Unfortunately, that is not the case. In this election and in far too many union elections, employers threaten workers with loss of jobs, plant closings, moving to Mexico, loss of wages and benefits, and many other threats. Moreover, unlike political elections where all sides have comparable access to the voters, in union elections, the employer has unlimited workplace access to the workers while unions have no workplace access to workers.”

“Nissan set the wrong tone for this campaign early on,” King said, “when plant manager Daniel Gaudette told workers in an in-plant video message that they should not even talk to UAW supporters. The company also conducted extensive illegal surveillance of Nissan workers who were engaged in leafleting and other pro-union activities in and around the plant. Furthermore, Nissan workers who were perceived by the company as undecided were forced to attend compulsory meetings, often repeatedly, where they were barraged with distorted, misleading and just plain wrong information about the UAW. Every Nissan technician was subjected on a daily basis to company disinformation about everything from Nissan’s relationship with unions in other countries to the basics of Nissan benefits and company policies.”

bobbylife's picture

Thanks, Michael.

So far you're not very convincing. You only cite statements of opinion by obviously self-interested parties, records of accusations similar to yours.

The 2001 election was not at all close ("...3,103 votes to reject the union, and 1,486 votes for union representation"). I'm not convinced that that can be entirely or even mostly blamed on intimidation or propaganda. I also presume that workers are a lot better-informed than others might assume they are, and that they didn't see an upside to UAW representation at that time.

michael kaplan's picture

There is a difference between

There is a difference between anecdotal evidence and 'statements of opinion'.

Common to union organizing is the 'worker speak-out,' an event at which workers put on the record accounts of abuse by corporate employers. I've attended several of these in the Knoxville area and they are impressive for the courage shown by workers openly willing to share their experiences with others. Such organizing has led to worker victories with local/regional factories and consequent improvements in working conditions and benefits.

Finally, I'm puzzled by your (anonymous) comments - seemingly anti-worker and anti-union - on a blog describing itself as 'progressive'.

bobbylife's picture

Oh, please.

Deflect away, Professor K. And while you're at it, please note that I'm not the one on this progressive blog who is patronizing and questioning the judgment of Nissan's labor force, who voted down the UAW at least twice in recent memory by ratios of about two to one. That would be you.

michael kaplan's picture

Deflect away, Professor

Deflect away, Professor K.

you're a poet

michael kaplan's picture

By coincidence, I've just

By coincidence, I've just finished reading Nobel-laureate economist Wassily Leontief's article entitled Technical
Advance, Economic Growth, and the Distribution of Income
, written in 1983 and not available online. In it, he makes reference to the theory behind Germany's Wirtschaftswunder, or Economic Miracle, based on the continual lowering of the wage component of industrial production, making Germany competitive in world markets while keeping wages relatively high.

The wage component at Nissan in Smyrna was running at about 7% of cost - 20 years ago. (If the cost of a $20,000 car is $10,000, that comes to $700 per vehicle.) I assume the state-of-the-art plant in Chattanooga will be even less. So worker 'demands' will really not be of much importance to VW in the greater scheme of things.

bizgrrl's picture

You're to kind. Thanks.

You're too kind. Thanks.

michael kaplan's picture

"Full-text access may be

"Full-text access may be available if you are affiliated with a participating library or publisher."

michael kaplan's picture

good to know. thanks.

good to know. thanks.

michael kaplan's picture

this is what auto assembly

this is what auto assembly looks like without human beings. that's why - getting back to the original post - it doesn't really matter (to VW) whether the plant is unionized or not. eventually, there won't be many human beings around the plant. so while, symbolically, they (VW) would likely prefer to remain non-unionized, the direct human component of production will be so low that providing workplace amenities and benefits unionized workers demand won't be a significant issue.

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