14 February 2014

BREAKING: Workers threatened; Chattanooga Times Free Press: “'Outrageous' GOP threats on VW union vote” & As Volkswagen workers vote, Tennessee senator ramps up anti-union talk & Why Unions Matter: The Numbers 14&13FEB14&5AUG11

VW has made it clear they are not opposed to workers at their Tennessee factory unionizing. They have said they are used to working with unions in Germany and do not expect a problem if their Tennessee workers vote to join the UAW. But Tennessee's repiglican and tea-bagger politicians have a problem with it, because if these workers unionize then maybe more will, and these additional workers will demand from their employers, many of them wealthy multi-national corporations with executive pay packages that are grossly obscene, a living wage and other benefits. The article from Mother Jones shows how unions even increase the pay scale of nearby business that aren't unionized. This terrifies the corporate America. These politicians are showing who they actually represent, the rich and powerful, the 1%. They are waging class warfare on the workers of Tennessee, and the voters should remember that on election day this November. Sign the petition calling on Tennessee's gop & tea-bagger politicians to stop their threats against the workers of their state and to support their right to unionize if they so choose....

How angry would you be if a company wanted to add jobs in your community, but your own elected officials told them to go to Mexico instead?

That's exactly the situation playing out this week in Tennessee, where Volkswagen factory employees are voting RIGHT NOW on whether to unionize. On the eve of that vote, GOP legislators threatened to scuttle future factory expansions if workers choose to unionize.

These Republican threats are outrageous and unprecedented - please add your name to demand that Tennessee Republicans end their intimidation campaign.

Keep in mind, Volkswagen itself wants to give its workers a voice at this plant. They also want to expand their Tennessee operations to build a new product line.

Tennessee's Republican legislators are the ones trying to force Volkswagen to move the new work to their other plant in Mexico.

Stop the Intimidation: Sign our petition telling Tennessee Republicans to stop threatening workers!

Thank you for helping to stop this outrageous abuse of power at the expense of working families.


Michael Sargeant
Executive Director
Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

P.S. Tennessee Republicans' threats against Volkswagen could be illegal under federal labor law - demand an end to the threats today.

As Volkswagen workers vote, Tennessee senator ramps up anti-union talk

WASHINGTON/CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee Thu Feb 13, 2014 4:49pm EST

U.S. Senator Bob Corker speaks to the media in Chattanooga, Tennessee February 11, 2014. REUTERS-Bernie Woodall
The Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga ,Tennessee, is shown December 1, 2011. REUTERS-Billy Weeks
1 of 2. U.S. Senator Bob Corker speaks to the media in Chattanooga, Tennessee February 11, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Bernie Woodall

Related Topics

(Reuters) - One of Tennessee's two U.S. senators ramped up his anti-union rhetoric on Thursday in an attempt to sway workers at Volkswagen AG's Chattanooga plant who are voting this week on representation by the United Auto Workers.
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 contradicted 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.
Volkswagen headquarters in Germany declined further comment and referred to Fischer's statement.
The dueling statements injected further uncertainty into the outcome of the three-day election, whose implications extend far beyond Chattanooga. If the vote, which ends on Friday evening, favors the UAW, it would galvanize a union that has been bleeding members over the years.
On Wednesday, Corker escalated what has been a seesaw battle between union and anti-union forces, saying he had been "assured" that if workers at the factory reject the UAW, the company would reward the plant with a new product to build.
Corker on Thursday issued a second statement, saying his information is better than that of Fischer, the top-ranked VW official at Chattanooga.
"After all these years and my involvement with Volkswagen, I would not have made the statement I made yesterday without being confident it was true and factual," said Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor who helped negotiate the VW plant deal.
In his interview with Reuters, however, Corker would not disclose the source of his information. It was not immediately clear how much of an impact his comments would have on the secret ballot, which remains too close to call.
The UAW's bid to represent VW's 1,550 hourly workers has faced fierce resistance from Tennessee politicians and national conservative groups. Corker has long opposed the union, which he says hurts economic and job growth in Tennessee, a claim that UAW officials dispute.
A defeat could scuttle the 400,000-member union's latest attempt to stem a decades-long decline in membership, revenue and influence. It would reinforce the widely held notion that the UAW is unable to overcome the region's deep antipathy toward organized labor.
If the union wins, VW would institute a German-style works council, with members elected by plant employees, to make key decisions about how the facility is run. The UAW would bargain over wages and benefits, but cede to the council traditional bargaining prerogatives such as work rules and training.
VW has been publicly neutral on the vote. But when the German automaker last week announced an agreement with the UAW to coordinate their messages to workers, the union received a significant boost it has not had in previous, unsuccessful organizing efforts in the South.
Voter turnout was reported to be heavy on Wednesday but snow on Thursday could affect how many vote, according to both pro- and anti-UAW workers.
The plant produces the mid-size Passat sedan from Monday through Thursdays and is normally closed on Fridays.
Earlier this week, Tennessee Republican lawmakers said if the UAW was voted into the Chattanooga plant, Volkswagen could lose millions of dollars in state incentives. In order to entice Volkswagen to build its new U.S. plant in Corker's hometown of Chattanooga, the state gave it about $580 million in incentives.
Corker was instrumental in lobbying Volkswagen to put the plant, which opened in 2011, in Chattanooga. Early meetings with Volkswagen officials from Germany were held at his home.
(Additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; editing by Ross Colvin and Matthew Lewis) 

Why Unions Matter: The Numbers

| Fri Aug. 5, 2011 1:55 AM GMT
A few months ago I wrote a piece for the magazine arguing that the decline in unionization over the past three decades has been a key factor in the decline of the American left over the same period. But it's a hard case to prove because there are so many moving parts to it. So I was intrigued earlier this week when my colleague Josh Harkinson linked to a new study that attempts to quantify the effects of unionization on income inequality using a rigorous regression analysis of census data.
The study comes from Bruce Western and Jake Rosenfeld and was published this month in the American Sociological Review. The authors use a model that accounts for both individual membership in unions as well as overall unionization rates in specific industries and regions. It also controls for education, age, race, ethnicity, and gender, which allows them to estimate the effect of unionization both between groups (e.g., the evolution of income inequality between high school dropouts and high school grads) and within groups (e.g., the evolution of income inequality within the entire subset of high school grads).
Once their model was in place, Western and Rosenfeld could manipulate their variables to estimate what income inequality would look like if union density had remained at its 1973 level. So what did they find? Answer: Among men, if you account only for the effect of individual membership in unions, it would be about a fifth lower, which agrees pretty well with previous estimates. But if you also account for the effect of unions on surrounding nonunion employers (who often raised wages to compete with union employers and to avert the threat of unionization in their own workplace), the effect is larger: Unionization at 1973 levels would decrease income inequality by a full third. You can see this in the chart below. For intragroup differences (which account for nearly the entire effect of unionization) the top line shows the actual rise of income inequality since 1973, while the red line is a prediction of what it would look like if union density were still at 1973 levels:

The effect of unionization on women is less dramatic because women were never unionized at the same rate as men. For them, increasing returns to education are a bigger factor in rising income inequality than deunionization. For men, however, deunionization has had a huge impact: "The decline of the US labor movement has added as much to men's wage inequality as has the relative increase in pay for college graduates," the authors say.
Western and Rosenfeld's explanation for this is similar to Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson's in Winner-Take-All Politics, last year's best book on modern political economy. Roughly speaking, there's a direct economic effect of unionization on wages, but there's also an effect of unions on the political system that indirectly affects wages. Western and Rosenfeld put it like this:
[Our] analysis suggests that unions helped shape the allocation of wages not just for their members, but across the labor market. The decline of US labor and the associated increase in wage inequality signaled the deterioration of the labor market as a political institution.…The de-politicization of the US labor market appears self-reinforcing: as organized labor’s political power dissipates, economic interests in the labor market are dispersed and policymakers have fewer incentives to strengthen unions or otherwise equalize economic rewards.
…[Prior to 1973,] unions offered an alternative to an unbridled market logic, and this institutional alternative employed over a third of all male private sector workers. The social experience of organized labor bled into nonunion sectors, contributing to greater equality overall. As unions declined, not only did the logic of the market encroach on what had been the union sector, but the logic of the market deepened in the nonunion sector, too, contributing to the rise in wage inequality.
In other words, deunionization has allowed income inequality to rise partly because unions are negotiating wages for fewer people than they used to, and partly because unions no longer have the power to force the political system to pay attention to the needs of the middle class. But if income inequality has to be reduced in order for middle class wages to grow—and it does—and if robust middle class wages are a key driver of the liberal project—and they are—then we're all in big trouble. Mass unionization is gone, and it's not coming back. This means we still need something to take its place, and we still don't have it. Until we do, the progressive movement will continue to tread water.