Lawmakers Intimidate VW Workers.

It's illegal for an employer to intimidate workers trying to form a union, but apparently it's just fine when a lawmaker does it. On Friday, workers at a Volkswagen Plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee voted against joining the United Auto Workers union. However, that vote may have turned out differently if workers weren't pressured by Republican Governor Bill Haslam and Senator Bob Corker.

In the days leading up to that vote, Governor Haslam warned that he would take away Volkswagen's state tax incentives if workers unionized, and Senator Corker claimed that a “no” vote would lead to the production of a new SUV at that plant. Volkswagen flatly denied Corker's claim, and expressed their support for the workers, but that wasn't enough to relieve the fear created by these powerful Republicans.

The UAW issued a statement saying, “We're outraged by politicians and outside special interest groups interfering with the basic legal right of workers to form a union.” And, they may ask the National Labor Relations Board to overturn Friday's vote. For decades, we've seen corporations fight to block workers from organizing, but these extreme anti-worker tactics are a new low for politicians.

Hopefully, the NLRB will overturn this vote, and give workers a chance to make their decision without intense pressure and lies from those in public office. Either way, it's clear who Governor Haslam and Senator Corker really work for, and every voter should remember that during the next election.


daclhill's picture
daclhill 10 years 17 weeks ago

This definetly shows that their governor doesn't work for the people but for the 1% and big money.

jkh6148's picture
jkh6148 10 years 17 weeks ago

THIS is just another gop stunt - while in OHIO romney claimed JEEP was gonna pull outta TOLEDO - and JEEP denied his claim.

THERE needs to be an investigation demanding corker to name his VW contact - asking VW to investigate if any top official had such a conversation with corker - asking the workers if the claim influenced their votes.

THERE is no doubt that republican governor bill haslam pressured the workers - is there any worse job killer than threatening to withhold state tax incentives?

IS there anything more shameful than an elected official - with hundreds of jobs on the line - being less than truthful with the workers and the people of TENNESSEE?

THE gop wants to keep the UAW outta the south because workers might just realize that unions do more good than harm - realize that the gop has lied to them all these years - and start voting democratic.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 10 years 17 weeks ago

Hopefully these actions will be remembered in the next election.

daclhill's picture
daclhill 10 years 17 weeks ago

Actions like these need to made aware of to the people. This is pure harassment and intimidation by elected officials and there are laws prohipiting this. It is no different them sitting at a voting precinct intimidating voters as they enter to vote or intimidation and harassment in the workplace.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 17 weeks ago

Just keeps growing uglier, ever so slowly as the water gradually heats up. So my fellow peons and wage slaves, shall we jump out or just sit until we boil to death? - AIW

Alan L.'s picture
Alan L. 10 years 17 weeks ago

Hello, new to the Thom Hartmann program. First off, let me say that I've been a union man for over forty years. It's worked well for me. I gladly pay my union dues without hesistation. I thought this story deserved more attention. While I understand the politics of it, I think the UAW bosses should hang their heads in shame. I've read the Ford contract; and I don't see how people can survive in a two tier system. UAW is now a "company union" like of old days which isn't going to do much for these workers except collect dues. When the workers understood there was a "neutrality agreement", I think many were intelligent enough to realise they were getting a bad deal. I wouldn't want the UAW taking money out of my paycheck to support the lifestyles of union bosses. I never thought I would say that. But, the plain truth is that the union sold-out their workers. It would take two people working at a Ford plant to support a family.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 10 years 17 weeks ago
Quote Aliceinwonderland:Just keeps growing uglier, ever so slowly as the water gradually heats up. So my fellow peons and wage slaves, shall we jump out or just sit until we boil to death? - AIW

Aliceinwonderland ~ I say jump out of the pot and try to trick the Chef into jumping in for us. Hey, it worked for Hansel and Gretel.

claudiatobin's picture
claudiatobin 10 years 17 weeks ago

The corporations keep winning. The people keep voting against their own interest. In Washington State Boeing told the workers they would look elsewhere to build their planes if the union members didn't accept a bad contract. The company won. In Tennessee the politicians told the employees if they voted for a union they wouldn't give tax breaks to the company implying that their jobs would be lost. The corporation won. My father was head of UAW 400 in Detroit in the 50's. The unions worked very hard to give employees dignity, breaks, 40 hour work week, vacation, seniority rights, etc. It was thought that once good work rules were the norm then perhaps there would no longer be a need for a union. The opposite has happened. As soon as the unions were demonized and went away the companies began taking advantage of workers and continue lowering pay and taking away benefits and people are so afraid of not having a job they believe unions are bad. What a shame, profits for corporations rise and employee pay and benefits keep getting worse. I ask the 1% how much is enough?

Gator Girl 10 years 17 weeks ago

I agree that Corker should be required to reveal his source - if not in public then to an unbiased person or persons who could then investigate this whole debacle. I have never really been a union person but living in a right to work state will change that in a hurry. Also, VW, if they have someone in their employee who has helped to foil this vote should be ferreted out and made to pay with his;/her job. A financial background check perhaps? Good forensic accounting?

The workers at VW should be able to have the TRUTH told to them and then be allowed to hold a new vote because I believe that if they had not been in fear of losint their work they would have voted FOR the union - they had nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing so but being imtimidated I truly believe they were would do the job.

Corker is not the least bit interested in thos employees - he is only looking out for his big money backers and his own pocketbook. Bought and paid for by the corporate world without a doubt.

Let's see a REAL INVESTIGATION into the REAL cause of this and then see what happens.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 10 years 17 weeks ago

claudiatobin -- The 1% reply will be what does "enough" mean? I do not think they have ever heard that word. The 99% have to realize that a super-majority in the house and senate will bring us card check. We were just one vote short in 2009.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 17 weeks ago

Wow Marc, great strategy! Not bad for such a peace lovin' dude. That's what I like about you, Marc. You're all about peace, love an' grooviness but you're no pushover, and you're nobody's doormat. My kinda guy! - AIW

Willie W's picture
Willie W 10 years 17 weeks ago

Government interference at it's best. Using the peoples tax money to threaten the people.

WilliamManners's picture
WilliamManners 10 years 17 weeks ago

The problem is letting the voters know what has transpired! The Republicans exercise a great deal of influence over what is allowed to be diseminated and how it is portrayed.

trueamericavet's picture
trueamericavet 10 years 17 weeks ago

This just goes to show you that the Repugs hate the working class. I happen to be a retired Union member. My wife and I are retired for the Teamsters Union still young enough to enjoy live. This all come from the early eighties. As we wacthed the war on uions declared one company after other fell as we could not stop bayne capital in my state. I and not socked that the vote did not pass so many people are frighten for there jobs that they won't rock the boat. Better luck next time

johnbest's picture
johnbest 10 years 17 weeks ago

What is wrong with the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board)? This should be brought to their attention if it hasn't already. Perhaps they are ignoring the enforcement of the labor laws. On construction utilizing Federal money, we are required to have a bulletin board with all kinds of posters - perhaps 20 - threatening enforcement of every law you can imagine that protects the workers. Where have they been since Saint Raygun screwed the pooch?

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 10 years 17 weeks ago

There is this bogus "libertarianism" saying that things like universal health care or union representation interfere with people's freedom when the opposite is true. The opponents of Obamacare or proponants of "right to work" act as though there are people who would rather not have decent health care when they need it or would rather not be paid a good wage or work under decent conditions. Such libertarians are only defending abstract, putative freedoms that have no relevance to anything in the real world, that only exist because their defenders concocted them for the purpose of a fraudulent campaign to enslave people.

Kend's picture
Kend 10 years 17 weeks ago

Wow how Un American. To have a vote to decide whether you are going to be in a union. let's get back to the good old days when you didn't Have a choice. everybody knows the Unions care about you that you do.

It was one employee one vote. It was not 1% of anything it was more than 50%.

don't forget that same union fought like hell to block that plant from being there in the first place.

Gary Reber's picture
Gary Reber 10 years 17 weeks ago

Amazingly, the reality is that technological invention and innovation is intensely utilized in the manufacturer of vehicles, yet the workers and their union representative advocates fail to realize that what they should be organizing and fighting for is OWNERSHIP in the future non-human productive capital assets of their companies. IF THEY DON'T, they will eventually, sooner than later, be replaced by more of the machines in the picture and the invisible digital computerized processes that run them.

While VW's investment of about $7 billion in North America over the next five years represents a lot of job creation, it also is a LOT of productive capital investment represented by new plant and equipment. Unless the workers organize their union to be an Ownership Producers Union, they will not have a chance of sharing, as employees in the ownership of this new economic growth, and instead will end up bargaining for serf wages and servitude, while constantly being faced with the threat of losing their jobs to further super-automation and robotic tools that lower costs of production and increase profits to the present owners of VW.

If the workers and their representatives were smart, they would organize as an Ownership Producers Union and demand not increased wages and benefits but full-dividend payout and full voting-rights employee ownership participation.

jkh6148's picture
jkh6148 10 years 17 weeks ago

THERE is no use having another vote until corker's claims have been completely and publicly investigated. NOW since the threats have been planted in the minds of the workers - there is no way to erase those threats without having a complete, unbias, public investigation - to prove to the workers without any doubt - that political intimadation was used to influence their votes -

SINCE the vote went against the UAW there is no reason for VW to postpone the announcement that Chattanooga has been awarded the additional work - corker needs to call his source and tell him/her to make the announcement - that the workers are standing outside his house with torches and pitchforks - he needs that announcement !

geomatic 10 years 17 weeks ago

Once again, this shows that money can buy stupid.

Monfrere's picture
Monfrere 10 years 17 weeks ago

sorry but these autoworkers did elect these officals . they got what they wanted . to be treated as stupid humanbeings that can't think for themselves. it is to scary.

jkh6148's picture
jkh6148 10 years 17 weeks ago

SO I am confused - are you saying that the 1500 people at the VW factory are the only people in the state of TENNESSEE that voted for the elected officials? THAT would be an extremely low turn out for a state election.

leila's picture
leila 10 years 17 weeks ago

As soon as you refer to your union leaders as "union bosses", you tip your hand as an imposter. The union is not an entity of itself. The members ARE the union and need to be active to prevent corruption within the leadership they elect.

bobcox's picture
bobcox 10 years 17 weeks ago

Not if the majority of the NLRB were apporinted by GWB or before! Look at how the Supreme Court, with its life tenure, reflects the Republican position in almost all matters before it.

william phelps's picture
william phelps 10 years 17 weeks ago

Un(BLEEPING)believable. I understand the importance and neceesity of "capital" in a 'Capitalistic" Society, but I do not understand Elected Government officials threatening labor and apparently, LYING, to intimidate labor....thes two individuals completely exemplify the epitome of the "I GOT MINE" attitude of the people who bow down to $$$$$ at the expense of others. No moral grounds for these two officials.

Kend's picture
Kend 10 years 17 weeks ago

The union spent over two million dollars trying to do the same.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 10 years 17 weeks ago

kend -- Do you think 2 million is a lot of money? Also, what is source of your number?

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 10 years 17 weeks ago

Kend! What the f are you talking about? There's always a vote for a union. There's never a vote to not have a union that isn't rigged like this one.

You can't fault a union for not wanting plants migrating to right-to-work-for-nickels states.

You're so sincere, Kend, that's your most endearing quality.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 10 years 17 weeks ago

Mark S -- I like your words. May I use them in an email? Do you want me to identify you as the source? Feel free to say no to everything I requested.

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 10 years 17 weeks ago

Feel free, chuckle, I believe in )"anti copyright" policy. It might be a little more honest, though, if you prefaced it with something like, "Some blogger once said ..." or something like that but I don't suppose that really matters.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 10 years 17 weeks ago


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