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Tennessee Volkswagen Workers Reject Unionization

VW Chattanooga

After a months long effort, the United Auto Workers union has apparently failed in its efforts to unionize at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga,Tennessee:

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — In a defeat for organized labor in the South, employees at the Volkswagen plant here voted 712 to 626 against joining the United Automobile Workers.

The loss is an especially stinging blow for U.A.W. because Volkswagen did not even oppose the unionization drive. The union’s defeat — in what was one of the most closely watched unionization votes in decades — is expected to slow, perhaps stymie, the union’s long-term plans to organize other auto plants in the South.

A retired local judge, Samuel H. Payne, announced the vote results inside VW’s sprawling plant after officials from the National Labor Relations Board had counted the ballots. In the hours before the votes were tallied, after three days of voting at the assembly plant, both sides were predicting victory.

The vote this week came in a region that is traditionally anti-union, and as a result many said the U.A.W. faced an uphill battle. The union saw the campaign as a vital first step toward expanding in the South, while Republicans and many companies in Tennessee feared that a U.A.W. triumph would hurt the state’s welcoming image for business.

Standing outside the Volkswagen plant, Mike Jarvis, a three-year employee who works on the finishing line, said the majority had voted against U.A.W. because they were persuaded the union had hurt Detroit’s automakers.

“Look at what happened to the auto manufacturers in Detroit and how they struggled. They all shared one huge factor: the U.A.W.,” said Mr. Jarvis, who added that he had had bad experiences with other labor unions. “If you look at how the U.A.W’s membership has plunged, that shows they’re doing a lot wrong.”

The U.A.W. lost the unionization campaign even though it took place with one highly unusual — and highly favorable — circumstance. Unlike most American companies, Volkswagen pledged to remain neutral, in some ways offering quiet support to the union.

Nevertheless, Republican politicians in Tennessee as well as some outside conservative groups made sure that the plant’s nearly 1,600 workers heard plenty of anti-union arguments.

Governor Bill Haslam, a Republican, warned that auto part suppliers would not locate in the Chattanooga area if the plant was unionized, while Senator Bob Corker said Volkswagen executives had told him that the plant would add a new production line, making SUVs, if the workers rejected the U.A.W. In a series of interviews this week, Mr. Corker, a Republican and a former mayor of Chattanooga, asserted that a union victory would make Volkswagen less competitive and hurt workers’ living standards.

To step up the pressure, State Senator Bo Watson, who represents a suburb of Chattanooga, warned that the Republican-controlled legislature was unlikely to approve further subsidies to Volkswagen if the workers embraced the U.A.W., a threat that might discourage the company from expanding.

The final vote, according to Reuters, was 712 (53.21%) against to 626 (46.79%) in favor, so it wasn’t exactly an overwhelming defeat for the UAW. Nonetheless, it was a defeat and one that is likely to blunt future efforts by the union to try to unionize in the auto plants in states like Tennessee, Alabama, and South Carolina.

Jazz Shaw offers some further insight into what was going on at the plant prior to the vote:

Less reported in the course of this debate was the potential expansion of the plant and how Tennessee would handle it. VW has been looking to add yet another production line in Chattanooga for sports utility vehicles. This would generate even more jobs, both directly and indirectly. When the company first moved into the area, the state put together a generous package of incentives to help them get off the ground. There was already talk of a smaller, secondary package to get the new line started, but local politicians were saying that if the union came in and began kneecapping VW, such a package would have less of a chance of being passed.

In addition to that, people I spoke with also questioned why they needed such big gun protection “against” VW in the first place. Working conditions at the plant were described as very safe, the pay there was some of the best in the area and the benefits plan offered by the automaker is generous. Why start poking a stick in their eye?

Chattanooga has undergone a serious rebirth over the past couple of decades. Once a declining area with crumbling infrastructure, a lot of work and smart investment has turned the city into a tourist destination while simultaneously seeing several major employers – including Amazon, in addition to VW – opening up shop and bringing jobs to the low tax, high worker availability area. With the rejection of the UAW, residents seem hopeful that this trend will continue.

The experiences of the workers in Chattanooga is similar to that of those in other locations in the south where automakers such as Honda, BMW, Volkswagen, Hyundai, and others have been operating manufacturing plants for decades now. Numerous studies have shown that the salaries and benefits that these workers earn are comparable to those earned by workers in unionized plants run by American car companies, for example, and as Jazz notes above the introduction of these plants in cities like Chattanooga, Birmingham, and elsewhere has gone a long way toward revitalizing areas that were long suffering from the decline of their manufacturing base. Finally, the workers themselves seem to be quite happy with the working conditions at these plants to the point where, in interviews, they’ve expressed doubts about why a union would even be needed. Granted, part of that attitude is likely related to the fact that the European and Asian automakers that have taken route in the American south have brought with them many of the business and employer-employee practices that they follow in their home countries. To some extent, American companies have adopted some of these practices in recent years with some degree of success, but those models don’t necessarily work when you try to integrate them into an environment of forced unionization.

In the end, though, the question of whether or not to unionize at this particular plant is one that was left to the workers and they are the ones who made the decision not to unionize. That’s how it ought to be in every part of the country, to be honest, and it’s one of the things that makes “right to work” laws far better than the “closed shop” rules that dominate in much of the north and (what’s left of) the industrial Midwest. The idea that people should be forced to be part of a Union in order to get a job is something that ought to be considered a relic of the 20th Century that ought to be abandoned..

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Axel Edgren says:

    No laborer has ever been rewarded for minding the advice of their employers or that of the capitalists. They’ll suffer soon, along with the rest of the suicidal middle class.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 19

  2. Bob says:

    I think, Axel, that tens of thousands of steel workers in Pittsburgh, Gary, Indiana and Youngstown, Ohio would tell you that following the advice of the Union did nothing but cost them their jobs.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 21 Thumb down 31

  3. James Pearce says:

    When the company first moved into the area, the state put together a generous package of incentives to help them get off the ground.

    Of course they did.

    There was already talk of a smaller, secondary package to get the new line started, but local politicians were saying that if the union came in and began kneecapping VW, such a package would have less of a chance of being passed.

    Of course it would.

    Senator Bob Corker said Volkswagen executives had told him that the plant would add a new production line, making SUVs, if the workers rejected the U.A.W.

    Of course they would.

    The VW workers in Chattanooga don’t need a union. They just need to make sure their politicians keep letting Don Fanucci “wet his beak.”

    (And yes, that’s a Godfather reference.)

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 7

  4. C. Clavin says:

    I think you mean “Big Setback for the Middle-Class”
    The Republican assault on the working class continues.
    Gee… I wonder why the economy, suffering through a demand crisis, is recovering so slowly?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 29 Thumb down 16

  5. Axel Edgren says:

    @Bob: Is it the job of unions to save industry jobs in the largest economic crisis since the great depression? Everyone can see that the middle-class share of wealth has fallen in perfect accordance with union membership.

    There is never a reward for not being greedy and self-serving. You’ll lose your job anyway once the unregulated financial sector creates a new crisis.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 8

  6. James Pearce says:

    @Bob:

    tens of thousands of steel workers in Pittsburgh, Gary, Indiana and Youngstown, Ohio would tell you that following the advice of the Union did nothing but cost them their jobs.

    Yes, it was the unions that made Asia such an attractive manufacturing environment…..

    Because ideology, that’s why.

    As this post quite clearly states, the reluctance of TN workers to unionize didn’t draw VW to Chattanooga. It was the government handouts that did that. As long as the state of TN is willing to pay…..they’ll get their factories. Unionize, don’t unionize….that’s not important.

    What’s important is that state pay up.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 4

  7. michael reynolds says:

    Southerners have a real genius for self-harm.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 37 Thumb down 22

  8. Stan says:

    @Bob: In my last undergraduate class, in June 1959, the professor said the US steel industry was doomed because it wasn’t investing in new plant and new production methods. He gave it 20 more years. So don’t blame this one on the unions. The downsizing of American industry is a cooperative achievement of management, workers, and stockholders. The enemy is us.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 5

  9. superdestroyer says:

    @Stan:

    The U.S. also ran out of high quality iron ore. How was Pittsburgh suppose to survive when the raw materials would have had to come from longer distances. Also, by 1979, CERLC and RCRA has come along to not only increase the costs of operating the plants (along with the CAA and CWA) but they also made the land that the plants were build on worthless. Not to say that the U.S. should not have increased environmental protection and stopped the externalizing the costs of their population but it seems reason that the profit margins of many industries in the U.S. in the 1960′s were smaller that the costs of environmental compliance

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  10. becca says:

    They are still whistling Dixie here in TN and the other plantation-states.

    State legislators are the Modern-day equivalent of slave- traders. And their majority white male supporters are down with that. Go figure…

    Chattanooga is a very rebel, uh, I mean republican area of TN. Voting for any union could be hazardous to your health. That the vote was as close as it was is what is surprising. Maybe some southerners are finally getting back their balls.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 25 Thumb down 15

  11. JWWJ says:

    From a Reuters article on the topic the President supposedly talked about: “accusing Republican politicians who oppose unionization of being more concerned about German shareholders than U.S. workers.”

    Why doesn’t the President just issue an executive order declaring this union election invalid due to outside influences (or have the National Labor Relations Board do it)?
    Then force VW to have a non-secret ballot election. If he can modify the health care law, don’t see why he doesn’t have the executive power to do this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 13

  12. HarvardLaw92 says:

    The problem here is that VW is quite intent on installing labor councils in its TN plant like those which function in its other plants worldwide, and thanks to US labor law, doing that in the absence of a unionized workplace is exceedingly difficult.

    The workers in TN may have just cut off their noses to spite their faces. Not so much in that VW would close the plant, but we may (and likely will) see new production installed elsewhere as product lines destined for the US market get shifted away from German plants. Puebla, for example.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 5

  13. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Those downvoting would do well to note where VW just recently decided to site additional production of the Golf platform models destined for the US market.

    Hint: it wasn’t Tennessee … It was the highly unionized plant in Mexico …

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 5

  14. JKB says:

    @Axel Edgren:

    If they were minding the advice of their employer, they would have voted the union in. VW did everything they could to help the UAW. That right there might have been the big red flag for the workers.

    Many people remember the quality of work done by UAW members back in the 1970s. Why would anyone want to be associated with such a lousy organization. Especially since they’ve done nothing to improve their product line.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 18

  15. HarvardLaw92 says:

    And, just because I like being pokey …

    Would anybody like to venture a guess as to what platform this new 7 seater SUV which Tennessee hopes to gain (which doesn’t really exist yet beyond VW’s engineering department and the Detroit Auto Show) is based on?

    Go ahead. I’ll give you three guesses.

    I just hope one of them is “MQB” (in other words, the Golf …)

    Tennessee produces exactly one model – a localized version of the Passat based on a different and largely proprietary platform developed from the European Passat.

    The short version? VW just decided to site new production capacity for the platform that this SUV is based on in Mexico.

    The same Mexico plant that is VW’s second largest worldwide and the largest automobile factory in the Americas, larger than any located in the US by a good margin.

    Anybody want to place bets on where the SUV will end up being built at?

    “Win” the battle; lose the war.

    To quote the always erudite Michael Reynolds:

    “Southerners have a real genius for self-harm.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 5

  16. Captain Obvious says:

    Ah, yes. The elitist liberal’s lament: “Why won’t you racist crackers keep voting against your own self-interest!!!@@eleventy!!” Because you care.

    Like any liberal gives a rat’s ass as to what happens to the average Tennessean. Obviously, they can’t be trusted with their franchise.

    Yes, yes. Chattanooga is a festering Klan rally waiting to happen at any given moment while they sing Dixie before every shift. So much that a milquetoast liberal like Bob Corker used to be their Imperial Grand Wizard.

    The only people in the country that it’s still socially acceptable to be bigots against.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 30

  17. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Captain Obvious:

    Would you like a tissue?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 5

  18. Captain Obvious says:

    Nah. Why should I be crying? The people did the right thing.

    Nothing stops VW from having an employee counsel. If they want to start one that is within their right.

    As usual, it’s the liberals that are boohooing that Big Labor got another bloody nose.

    Maybe their love of the American worker wouldn’t seem so hollow if they weren’t in favor of Amnesty.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 25

  19. Tlaloc says:

    Like any liberal gives a rat’s ass as to what happens to the average Tennessean.

    A lot of liberals do. For one thing no small amount of liberals live in the south, including Tennessee. And then there are the liberals who just generally have a soft spot for hard luck cases.

    On the other hand I personally feel Lincoln was a godd@mn fool not to rid us of that cesspool of idiocy, incest, and bad dentistry when we had the chance. So, you know, there are differences of opinion on the topic.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 6

  20. Captain Obvious says:

    And my point is made exactly.

    Thank you fvckface. I mean Tlaloc.

    For the people who like to moan about war crimes over the last ten years they sure wish there had been more of them committed during and after the civil war.

    Like the bumper stickers says “Coexist”.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 30

  21. Stan says:

    @superdestroyer: How come Japan produces more steel than we do? Ditto for the EU. Is it possible that the job creators in the steel industry might be to blame?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  22. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Captain Obvious:

    Nothing stops VW from having an employee counsel. If they want to start one that is within their right.

    Except US labor laws. Reading comprehension doesn’t seem to be your strong point, and you don’t really seem to grasp what works councils do in every other VW plant.

    They are not ideas brainstorming over coffee. They are much closer to cooperative management, and thanks to US labor law, they are pretty much impossible to implement here without a union.

    Tennessee is the only VW assembly plant, in the entire world, that doesn’t have one.

    Best of luck with that self-interest thing, and hey, with those VW jobs and the employee discounts, some folks in TN will be able to afford those “Hecho in Mexico” new SUVs.

    Have a nice day :-D

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 3

  23. Robert Levine says:

    In the end, though, the question of whether or not to unionize at this particular plant is one that was left to the workers and they are the ones who made the decision not to unionize. That’s how it ought to be in every part of the country, to be honest, and it’s one of the things that makes “right to work” laws far better than the “closed shop” rules that dominate in much of the north and (what’s left of) the industrial Midwest.

    There are no closed shops in the US; federal law is quite clear on that subject. And the decision whether or not to unionize is left up to the workers in “every part of the country” already; the only additional option in right-to-work states is that workers can choose not to pay dues.

    The only “kneecapping” done in this situation was by Republicans so concerned that workers might exercise a right guaranteed by law that they threatened them with economic retaliation if they did so. Doug would be outraged if politicians made subsidies to a manufacturer contingent on its workforce being unionized; why is the reverse barely mentioned?

    Fundamentally the Republican party has three planks: abortion should be illegal, the rich should not pay taxes, and workers should have no rights. It’s pretty ugly when looked at head-on.

    Bad show, Doug.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 4

  24. Robert Levine says:

    @JKB:

    Funny that the quality of American-built cars sucked when UAW workers built them in the 70s but is now world-class when built by… UAW workers.

    It apparently is news to some people that the UAW doesn’t design the cars, doesn’t determine the quality of the parts suppliers, and doesn’t design the assembly processes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

  25. Robert Levine says:

    @Captain Obvious:

    It’s not “within their right” to start a joint management-labor committee without a union. Labor law is quite clear on that point, as the vast majority of experts on the law would tell you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  26. Robert Levine says:

    @JWWJ:

    First of all, he hasn’t “modified” the ACA; the administration has written regulations, which is generally considered within the power of US presidential administrations.

    Secondly, the NLRB is not an executive agency, hence not within the administration’s authority.

    Thirdly, any attempt to run a non-secret-ballot representation election would be met with an injunction.

    Any other questions?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  27. wr says:

    Gosh, what an astonishing oversight that the brilliant Jazz Shaw managed to completely overlook the campaign of extortion led by Senator Bob Corker and most of the state’s political leaders.

    Nope, this was purely good ol’ boys risin’ up against them stinking unions. The fact that the state basically promised to do everything they could to shut the plant down if they voted yes has nothing to do with it.

    I eagerly await Mr. Shaw’s next missive (to be proudly promoted by Doug) explaining that no minimum wage workers want the minimum wage to rise because that would hurt their employers’ feelings.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 4

  28. superdestroyer says:

    @Robert Levine:

    26 States do not have right to work laws. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-to-work_law

    However, Tennessee is one of the 24 that do have a right to work law. Even it more than 50% of thw VW plant could have voted for a union, I suspect that most of the worker would not have joined the union. What most progressives like to ignore is that the federal government operates under a right-to-work and most government employees are not union members unlike many states where state employees are forced to join a union.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

  29. stonetools says:

    This chart says it all, really.
    Shows shared prosperity rising, and then declining precisely in tandem with the rise and decline in union membership.
    Eric Loomis wrote a good article on this, and he says it comes down to various factors:

    So why did it fail? We can’t blame it all on the politicians and scaremongering. Yes, that probably clinched the failure, but it did not turn 712 votes. There were almost certainly several hundred no votes from the beginning. Why? First, the white South has always been very difficult to organize. A combination of ideas of self-reliance, the fact that unions are seen as something northern with Yankee ideas, the impact of evangelical religion, and a culture that united rich whites and poor whites through racial solidarity that also created other ties within communities that cut across class have all made unionization strikingly difficult. For an additional example of the last point, see how the people of West, Texas rallied around the fertilizer plant owner last year after his facility caused an explosion that wiped out half the town. They went to church with him after all. So there are long, historical struggles to unionize white workers here that go back to the textile towns of southern Appalachia in the 20s and the failure of Operation Dixie in 1946. And while I have not seen any demographics on the racial breakdown of workers in Chattanooga, pretty much all I’ve seen in interviews are white; at the very least, it seems to lean pretty heavily white. So outside groups tainting the UAW with Obama no doubt helped, but it doesn’t explain 712 votes.

    There’s also the specter of capital mobility looming over the plant. Even though VW said it wasn’t moving the plant, this was a major theme of the outside groups and it does seem to have affected some workers. Despite left-leaning labor activists beating up Big Labor for a lack of union democracy, far and away the top reason for labor’s decline is the jobs disappearing to nonunion states and to foreign nations. Given what capital mobility did to Detroit and the subsequent almost mythological role Detroit has played in American culture, it becomes easy to taint the UAW with the decline of Detroit, which was a central part of the anti-union strategy. On top of that, the UAW having to agree to two-tiered contracts so the Big Three auto makers would keep jobs in Michigan and Ohio, contracts that drastically lowered wages for new workers, did not lend itself to potential new members thinking the UAW was going to make their lives better. That’s a tough spot for the UAW to be in and the blame goes to capital mobility because if the UAW doesn’t agree, those jobs are gone and Lansing and Toledo and other union towns are just dead. So long as corporations can move at a whim, it will be tremendously difficult for labor to win meaningful victories.

    I think finally a problem too is the sheer success of the union movement. Doug seems to think that wage and hour laws, workplace safety laws, and even the right to form a union came down from libertarian heaven. In actuality, it was paid for by the blood and sweat of earlier union struggles. Now that such things are a matter of law, its easy for nonunion workers to just say “Why do we need a union. If we want anything, we can just ask the company.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 3

  30. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Stan:

    Japan had an interesting way of importing Japanese steel into the US (and thereby avoiding tariffs) – they put it on four wheels and called it a car.

    They also had the “benefit” of having had their steel mills blown up during WW2. As a result, they built new and advanced ones, while we kept running comparatively inefficient dinosaurs like Sparrows Point in Baltimore. It wasn’t a question of if, but when, our steel industry was going to die.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 4

  31. James Pearce says:

    @Captain Obvious:

    “Thank you fvckface.”

    Seriously?

    Might want to consider growing up, buddy. We’ll show this to your mama and she’ll stop paying your bills. Then what? You go to the library every time you wanna say stupid stuff on the internet?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 3

  32. al-Ameda says:

    CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — In a defeat for organized labor in the South, employees at the Volkswagen plant here voted 712 to 626 against joining the United Automobile Workers.

    I have to admit, I’m shocked that the vote was so close.

    Only about 13 to 14 percent of the workforce is unionized yet the much of the public believes that unions are responsible for much that is wrong in America. All of this makes you wonder how America survived the post-WWII 1950s, when about 30% of workers were unionized.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  33. JKB says:

    @Robert Levine:

    What the UAW workers did to sabotage cars in the 1970s is well documented. Purposely dropping bolts into panels, sticking coke cans with ball bearings in to seal enclosures. That was above the shoddy workmanship made possible by the poor management practices. Remember “Fix Or Repair Daily”? Fortunately, we go foreign autos into the US and put that stuff where it belongs in the bankruptcy. And, yes, the auto bailout was to keep the UAW scum from the 1970s in their unearned retirement and health care.

    They may have thought they were just being rabble back then but they ruined the union brand.

    Old people wax nostalgic about the union but I’m 50 years old and my experience with union in person and in the press is corruption, poor workmanship, insane protectionist work rules. Same with Detroit. It might have been a good place at one time but in my life time it has been a cesspool.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 22

  34. Stan says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Plant modernization in Japan and western Europe after WW II was cited by my professor back in the 50′s as one of the reasons underlying America’s future decline as an industrial leader. But the main reason, he thought, was the preference of everybody concerned – management, workers, and stockholders – for short term profits as opposed to the long term health of the industry.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  35. @michael reynolds: Or, perhaps we do not care for Northern liberal policies that are killing jobs, increasing taxation, and sending the same Northern Liberals who wanted the policies screaming for the door, and, ironically, moving to the South.

    We care a bit more about personal freedom and responsibility.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 23

  36. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @William Teach:

    If you cared that much about responsibility, you’d stop effectively being carried by us through redistributive taxation. Tax dollars flow from from net payor states – most of which are located in the Northeast – to net recipient states – most of which strangely seem to be located in the South.

    I’ve heard every complaint imaginable about New Yorkers from the South, but they certainly don’t seem to mind us propping up their standard of living.

    We get that you don’t like us – so can we just have our money back, please? Pay for your own highways and bridges for a change …

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 7

  37. wr says:

    @JKB: “And, yes, the auto bailout was to keep the UAW scum”

    Oh, look. Another great swathe of the American people whom JKB hates.

    That makes it about 99%, judging by his various messages.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  38. wr says:

    @William Teach: “We care a bit more about personal freedom and responsibility.”

    Personal freedom — except for women.

    Responsibility — except for corporations who poison the drinking water of entire states.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 5

  39. anjin-san says:

    We care a bit more about personal freedom and responsibility.

    That certainly explains the screeching from conservatives when they are told they are expected to carry their own health insurance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

  40. anjin-san says:

    @JKB

    Any serious discussion about the meltdown of the American auto industry in the 70s has to take into account the internal power shift away from designers and engineers to accountants in Detroit.

    But then you are not a serious person, so I imagine that factoid is of no interest to you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  41. Brett says:

    It’s pretty shitty that Volkswagen can’t just set up Works Councils with their employees without having to jump through the extra hoop of inviting an outside union in. I understand the fears about “company unions”, but just having the Works Councils doesn’t stop workers from opting to hold elections for outside union representation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  42. anjin-san says:

    We care a bit more about personal freedom

    Ah, so you are pro-choice and support marriage equality. Cool!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

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    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  44. al-Ameda says:

    @Get Free RIOT Points:

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    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  45. bill says:

    vw makes good commercials, their cars aren’t all that reliable though. the uaw is pissed that they can’t get another group of suckers to try to keep their pension funds afloat, and their bosses in the black.

    @al-Ameda: i’m just imagining that phrase with a nigerian accent for some reason?!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  46. george says:

    @William Teach:

    We care a bit more about personal freedom and responsibility.

    Then why all the emphasis on having more cops, the Patriot Act and so forth? Personal freedom and responsibility applies just as strongly to being able to take care of yourself against physical threats as financial ones.

    Again, the progressives are much more consistent on this score. They say people need protection both financially and physically. The conservatives think its a disincentative to protect people financially (makes them soft), but somehow don’t see it as a disincentative to protect people physically (ie somehow that doesn’t make them soft).

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  47. KM says:

    @stonetools:

    the blood and sweat of earlier union struggles.

    Literally. I give you one of the greatest (union) battles most people have never heard of. Almost one million rounds were fired, bombs were dropped on civilians walking to a protest (one brought to a US Courtroom to prove what crimes were being committed!). Workers wore red handkerchiefs around their necks to identify themselves and were thus proudly called rednecks. West Virginia miners standing up for themselves and their rights.

    Our forefathers bled for the right to unionize. They would be ashamed at how some of their descendants curse out and denigrate what they fought and died for.

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  48. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    And, judging from the number of downvotes on comments critical of the South, an enormous (and abiding) chip on their shoulders.

    plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  49. bill says:

    @HarvardLaw92: well it’s been a few decades since the japs handed the big 3′s asses to them- and they still slay everyone with reliability. i held out for quite a while- had lots of family/friends that had uaw ties and such but after i got a jap car i just felt like i was used for so long. it was great buying a car that lasted longer than the payments and didn’t even need the bumper to bumper warranty. now they’re actually made here by non-union workers- what a shame. got a jap bike too, kinda like a harley that doesn’t break down. rewarding “American” made crap is actually “un-American”- if not fascist..

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