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Press Coverage of UAW's VW-Chattanooga Loss 'Somehow' Overlooks One
NewsBusters.org ^ | February 15, 2014 | Tom Blumer

Posted on 02/15/2014 6:09:33 PM PST by Kaslin

The three Associated Press reports I've seen on the UAW's failure to win the right to represent hourly workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee — the first two were covered in NewsBusters posts here and here; the wire service's 3:52 p.m. report is here — all mention in one way or another what UAW President Bob King is now calling "unprecedented outside interference" in the runup to the election. (VW, which can only run the factory with the kind of "workers councils" it has at its other worldwide plants in the U.S. if its workers are represented by an outside union, supported the UAW's efforts.)

But AP reporters Tom Krisher and Erik Schelzig, as well as panelists discussing the aftermath on Melissa Harris-Perry's MSNBC program this morning, "somehow" ignored the "outside interference" of the person who holds the most powerful political office on earth. That's right. President Obama, whose National Labor Relations Board conducted the election, weighed in on Friday morning with statements at a "closed door" meeting which were clearly designed to be leaked. Here is what Richard Cowan and Bernie Woodall at Reuters reported on Friday morning (HT Gateway Pundit):

Obama weighs in on contentious union vote at Volkswagen plant

President Barack Obama on Friday waded into a high-stakes union vote at Volkswagen AG's plant in Tennessee, accusing Republican politicians who oppose unionization of being more concerned about German shareholders than U.S. workers.

Obama's comments, made at a closed-door meeting of Democratic lawmakers in Maryland, came as the vote to allow union representation at the Chattanooga plant drew to a close.

The vote will have wide-reaching implications for the auto industry in the South, where all foreign-owned assembly plants employ nonunion labor, and for the United Auto Workers union, which could use a victory to reverse a decades-long downward spiral.

The vote has faced fierce resistance from local Republican politicians and national conservative groups who have warned that a UAW victory could hurt economic growth in Tennessee. While voting was under way on Wednesday, Republican U.S. Senator Bob Corker said VW could announce new investment in the plant if the UAW lost the secret ballot.

Facing accusations that he was seeking to influence the ballot process, Corker defended his statement as "true and factual" in an interview with Reuters, despite Frank Fischer, chief executive of VW Chattanooga, saying that there was "no connection" between the vote and the possible investment.

Obama's interjection in the war of words on Friday, albeit behind closed doors, underscored how much is stake in the three-day vote by VW's 1,550 hourly workers. The vote is due to end at 8:30 p.m. ET and the results could be announced soon after that.

Obama said everyone was in favor of the UAW representing Volkswagen except for local politicians who "are more concerned about German shareholders than American workers," according to a Democratic aide who attended the meeting with Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives.

There was still plenty of time left to vote on Friday, the third day of balloting at the plant, when Obama made his statements. The result is not considered truly official until Obama's National Labor Relations Board, which according to the video announcement after the election actually counted the votes, certifies the results.

Post-election, why isn't what Obama said being reported, and then framed as failed "outside interference"? It certainly should be seen as just that if the union attempts to appeal the election result to Obama's NLRB based on local politicians' statements.

The President's reference to politicians supposedly "being more concerned about German shareholders than U.S. workers" is either odd or ignorant, given the fact that the company itself essentially invited the UAW in. Also, last time I checked, sir, anyone in the world can own VW stock. Anything which might be good for Volkswagen would be good for all of its worldwide shareholders.

The press's failure to mention Obama's interjection conveniently spares him embarrassment for having advocated for the losing side. I'm reasonably confident that if the UAW had won, some of the credit would have gone to Obama's "powerful personal influence."

The fact that Obama didn't weigh in until Day 3 could also indicate that the union thought it had a victory in hand, and had communicated that expectation to Obama's staff. If so ... oops. We'll never know, but it's also possible that Obama's interjection might have turned the tide from what looked like a win to a loss with Day 3 voters.

AP's 3:52 p.m. report by Krisher and Schelwig, both of whom are likely members of News Media Guild representing the wire service's employees, blamed a "cultural disconnect" for the UAW's defeat, but also notably brought up the union's history of shortchanging its newbie workers to preserve the wages and benefits of longtime veterans:

UAW DRIVE FALLS SHORT AMID CULTURE CLASH IN TENN.

The failure of the United Auto Workers to unionize employees at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee underscores a cultural disconnect between a labor-friendly German company and anti-union sentiment in the South.

The multiyear effort to organize Volkswagen's only U.S. plant was defeated on a 712-626 vote Friday night amid heavy campaigning on both sides.

Workers voting against the union said while they remain open to the creation of a German-style "works council" at the plant, they were unwilling to risk the future of the Volkswagen factory that opened to great fanfare on the site of a former Army ammunition plant in 2011.

"Come on, this is Chattanooga, Tennessee," said worker Mike Jarvis, who was among the group in the plant that organized to fight the UAW. "It's the greatest thing that's ever happened to us."

Jarvis, who hangs doors, trunk lids and hoods on cars said workers also were worried about the union's historical impact on Detroit automakers and the many plants that have been closed in the North, he said.

"Look at every company that's went bankrupt or shut down or had an issue," he said. "What is the one common denominator with all those companies? UAW. We don't need it."

Pocketbook issues were also on opponents' minds, Jarvis said. Workers were suspicious that Volkswagen and the union might have already reached "cost containment" agreements that could have led to a cut in their hourly pay rate to that made by entry-level employees with the Detroit Three automakers, he said.

The concern, he said, was that the UAW "was going to take the salaries in a backward motion, not in a forward motion," said Jarvis, who makes around $20 per hour as he approaches his three-year anniversary at the plant.

In other words, the union's track record of acquiescing to two-tiered wage structures at its U.S. plants, where workers doing exactly the same job receiving vastly different pay based purely on seniority, came back to bite it. That's especially relevant because lower-paid workers typically are required to pay in the same amount in union dues as those who receive much higher pay. A reasonable estimate of what VW workers would have had to pay would be about $700 per year.

Given the union's history of poorly treating less experienced workers, it's reasonable to see the VW result as, in a sense, an administration of just desserts.

MSNBC panelists on Harris-Perry's show who failed to note Obama's interjection yammered on about VW's relatively low wage structure compared to the rest of the auto industry, using it as a jumping-off point to characterize the South as a region where workers are routinely exploited. But they "somehow" failed to mention Jarvis's critical and quite valid two-tiered wage structure suspicion.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Tennessee
KEYWORDS: biasbyobmission; bobcorker; chattanooga; demagogicparty; erikschelzig; labeling; liberalsanddemonrats; melissaharrisperry; memebuilding; msnbc; partisanmediashill; partisanmediashills; tennessee; tomkrisher; uaw; volkswagen
The rest of the title is: 'Outside Influence': President Obama
1 posted on 02/15/2014 6:09:33 PM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Anyone think VW played Devil’s Advocate? Pretend to be open to unionization knowing that it will Epic Fail anyway?


2 posted on 02/15/2014 6:12:29 PM PST by Extremely Extreme Extremist (15 years of FReeping! Congratulations EEE!!)
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To: Kaslin

Makes me proud to be a VW fan.

Maybe I’ll see if I can get a job down there sweeping the floor in the VW factory.


3 posted on 02/15/2014 6:16:15 PM PST by ROCKLOBSTER (Celebrate "Republicans Freed the Slaves" Month.)
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To: Kaslin

Obama has been kind of a disaster for unions. He came to Michigan to try to stop the RTW law from being passed as well.


4 posted on 02/15/2014 6:18:11 PM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: Kaslin

How soon before the Department of Justice (Injustice) decides the vote was illegal?


5 posted on 02/15/2014 6:23:47 PM PST by ladyjane
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Thanks Kaslin. Related:
6 posted on 02/15/2014 6:26:35 PM PST by SunkenCiv (http://www.freerepublic.com/~mestamachine/)
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To: Extremely Extreme Extremist

No, from all I have heard, they thought that the union would give them a built in organization to form a worker’s quality improvement committee. Little did they know that the UAW’s primary purpose is to raise money to give to DemocRats and to keep bad workers on the job.


7 posted on 02/15/2014 6:27:55 PM PST by Blood of Tyrants (Haven't you lost enough freedoms? Support an end to the WOD now.)
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To: cripplecreek

The forgot to count the dead uaw votes and they also found votes today in the trunk of the uaw officials Government Moters car.


8 posted on 02/15/2014 6:29:44 PM PST by ncfool (Obama's aMeriKa 2012 The land of entitlement for the 51% crowd.)
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To: Kaslin

Has FUBARack ever had an unexpressed thought?


9 posted on 02/15/2014 6:40:31 PM PST by clintonh8r (Don't twerk me, Broi)
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To: Blood of Tyrants

Ah, so VW thought the German work experience would translate into America as well.


10 posted on 02/15/2014 6:41:51 PM PST by Extremely Extreme Extremist (15 years of FReeping! Congratulations EEE!!)
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To: Kaslin; All
One comment, one question:

Lest they forget: About 20 years ago, VW opened a brand new assembly plant in Pennsylvania. 100% UAW closed shop. IN the 7 years it was open, there were SIX strikes. VWS finally shut it down.

In the big 3, which are closed shops, the workers all pay union dues. As part of the contract, the big three pay into the UAW pension and health care funds..( which are in big trouble, but that's another story) If the UAW had won in Tenn, would those workers who chose to be represented by the union now have been covered by the union plans, instead of what VW is now providing?

11 posted on 02/15/2014 6:54:04 PM PST by ken5050 (This space available cheap...)
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To: Kaslin
lower-paid workers typically are required to pay in the same amount in union dues as those who receive much higher pay.

Wrong. The U.A.W. assesses union dues of two hours pay per month. So while all do have to pay the same two hours pay, the statement is untrue that they have to pay the same amount.

12 posted on 02/15/2014 7:03:09 PM PST by Graybeard58 (Welfare is a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit. F.D.R.)
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To: ken5050
Lest they forget: About 20 years ago, VW opened a brand new assembly plant in Pennsylvania. 100% UAW closed shop. IN the 7 years it was open, there were SIX strikes. VWS finally shut it down.

i guess their corporate memory has Alzheimer's

13 posted on 02/15/2014 7:08:38 PM PST by Chode (Stand UP and Be Counted, or line up and be numbered - *DTOM* -vvv- NO Pity for the LAZY - 86-44)
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To: ken5050

“If the UAW had won in Tenn, would those workers who chose to be represented by the union now have been covered by the union plans, instead of what VW is now providing?”

Not right away, but remember how the first VW plant in Penn. was sacrificed to the great cry of “PARITY!!!”, a couple of months after the UAW came in.


14 posted on 02/15/2014 7:10:19 PM PST by tcrlaf (Well, it is what the Sheeple voted for....)
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To: cripplecreek
Another case when Obama thought he could sway the vote was when he tried to get the Olympics for Chicago.

His latest defeat is good for Tennessee, just like his defeat in the case of the Olympics was good for the Olympic Games.

15 posted on 02/15/2014 7:35:21 PM PST by Verginius Rufus
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To: Extremely Extreme Extremist
Anyone think VW played Devil’s Advocate? Pretend to be open to unionization knowing that it will Epic Fail anyway?

No, I don't think they did.

I think that they really wanted the "Workers Council" that is pretty engrained in their corporate culture to exist at the TN plant. They accepted that in order to make that happen they needed to have the UAW come in.

I also don't think they understood what impact the UAW being in their labor-relations mix would have. Actually, I think they were downright clueless in assuming that the downside of having the UAW in would be offset by the benefits provided by the Workers Council.

Here's what I don't get - why is having outside union representation a legal prerequisite to having a Workers Council? Why wouldn't the establishment of an independent local union be adequate? Other than it would cut a big national union (UAW) completely out of the mix, and the legal deck is completely stacked in the favor of big national unions. So I guess the question is rhetorical.

It still seems to be a COMPLETE violation of the whole freedom of association thing ...
16 posted on 02/15/2014 7:44:24 PM PST by tanknetter
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To: Kaslin

One Detroit is enough.


17 posted on 02/15/2014 7:57:04 PM PST by Post5203 (For the first time in my life, I despise this country.)
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To: Kaslin

The word ‘union’ stirs up bitter feelings in the South especially in places like Chattanooga where so much fighting took place and where so many families lost so many forbearers.


18 posted on 02/15/2014 11:51:47 PM PST by fella ("As it was before Noah so shall it be again,")
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To: Kaslin
...accusing Republican politicians who oppose unionization of being more concerned about German shareholders than U.S. workers.

You mean like Zero and his minions care more about the "rights" of illegals than the Rights of Citizens?

19 posted on 02/16/2014 5:12:53 AM PST by trebb (Where in the the hell has my country gone?)
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To: Kaslin

The article is suggesting that if Obama kept his mouth shut there was a possibility of the workers voting for a union.
Some things are priceless.


20 posted on 02/16/2014 6:24:25 AM PST by ops33 (Senior Master Sergeant, USAF (Retired))
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To: ops33

I’m kind of surprised the vote was as close as it was - just about 86 votes difference. I thought southerners were smarter than that.


21 posted on 02/16/2014 8:18:40 AM PST by A'elian' nation ("Political Correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred." Jacques Barzun)
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To: Chode
i guess their corporate memory has Alzheimer's

I doubt there are any suits left from 20 years ago.

22 posted on 02/16/2014 8:37:26 AM PST by Cyber Liberty (H.L. Mencken: "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.")
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To: Cyber Liberty
you're prolly right
23 posted on 02/16/2014 8:45:53 AM PST by Chode (Stand UP and Be Counted, or line up and be numbered - *DTOM* -vvv- NO Pity for the LAZY - 86-44)
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To: Kaslin

Looks like I failed yesterday.

I posted that Corker stuck his thumb in the eye of the UAW and his finger in the eye of Richard Trumka and the AFL CIO

I must now add that corker bitch slapped the tyrant from Chicago


24 posted on 02/16/2014 8:51:35 AM PST by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... History is a process, not an event)
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To: fella

I hope you forgot the sarcasm tag...because that’s about dumbest thing I have read here in a while...

...or you really think southerners are that backwards and ignorant...


25 posted on 02/16/2014 9:13:47 AM PST by Popman ("Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God" - Thomas Jefferson)
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To: Popman

I have family from that area. The old families that haven’t been broken up and scattered to the wind maintain the memories of their ancestors and what they did and what happened on their land. The memories of the depredations on the families who’s men were off to the war are especially remembered. If it’s ‘New Speak’ to say knowledge of the past is ignorance and learning lessons from that knowledge is backwards then so be it (or is that Soviet?(recycled 50s joke there)).


26 posted on 02/16/2014 10:46:44 AM PST by fella ("As it was before Noah so shall it be again,")
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To: fella

So you are saying that the word “union” evokes family memories from a war fought over 150 years ago...?

...and your family doesn’t understand the difference between a workers union and a faction of the civil war....

Okey dokey...


27 posted on 02/16/2014 10:57:56 AM PST by Popman ("Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God" - Thomas Jefferson)
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