Contrary to titillating reports that Chattanooga is a finalist for an additional assembly plant for a new and dynamic Volkswagen, if I could find a real stupid bookie I’d bet a huge chunk on the other finalist, Mexico. The trouble is there is not a bookie I know anywhere who would dare cover what is a certainty unless a very foolish and cancerous cell of Volkswagen assembly workers don’t come to their senses in a great big hurry.
We could send a star-studded trade delegation to Germany once a week, offer lavish incentives, and even promise to rename Ooltewah as Little Berlin, yet today there is no way to escape what everybody hoped and prayed would never happen. In just two short years after our first Passat rolled off the assembly line, the worst nightmare is a reality and has invaded our VW plant carrying the venom of a most evil serpent.
Oh, I am assured the United Auto Workers union is just delighted to be settling in the Scenic Center of the South. What was envisioned as a great Godsend – a wonderful company hiring over 3,500 of our people – is now threatened to become infected with the very same cancer that has scourged Detroit and left other “steel belt” cities in an emancipated and critical condition. Just wait until you see what you are fixing to read about a ghost town known as New Stanton, Pennsylvania.
But, first, one of life’s greatest axioms is, “Those who do not study history are forced to relive it,” And, brother, our extended community – I’m including all of us -- is getting ready for undue suffering if some misguided souls, who fail to remember they didn’t have a job when they were hired, do not – very quickly – throw the invading union carpet-baggers out on their ears.
I’ve no doubt any VW executive would much prefer to come to Chattanooga than Puebla, Mexico. Just ask any German who has endured the heat of southern Mexico, Lord have mercy. But some of the workers who were graciously hired to assemble Passats have let ill-founded greed spawned by union dreamers replace their common sense.
The cash-desperate UAW now believes it can wiggle just a toe inside our Chattanooga plant. Then comes the foot, the knee, etc. If that ever actually happens, it will become the biggest tragedy in our city’s long history and that includes those who were killed here in the Civil War.
Please think this through! A sparkling addition to the Chattanooga plant would give another 3,000 of our friends, neighbors and relatives very good jobs. But now we have in our midst a collection of fools who are being led like lemmings off a cliff by a UAW wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Toyota was keen on building a plant here before Volkswagen actually did, but the Japanese knew better after looking at the old Combustion Engineering site. Toyota built in grateful rural Mississippi rather than gamble with Chattanooga’s sordid union past and I remember when C-E shuttered the once-proud factory, escaping the union by moving to – voila! – Mexico.
VW doesn’t need or want the UAW to have any part of its desire to build quality automobiles. That’s no secret because neither does anybody else. Just check the facts: UAW’s membership topped 1.5 million in 1979, but since plummeted to 390,000 active members by 2010. Now guess what? The union is burdened by reportedly more than 600,000 retired members covered by pension and medical care plans. Do the math and you’ll see why they are so eager to slither inside our VW plant and take Chattanooga’s money to some shell of a bank in Detroit
What is most unbelievable is why any VW worker would want any form of union or “a work council” when they are being treated so well. Trust me, the UAW will inevitably swirl down the drain. According to figures just released last Friday by the Bureau of Labor statistics, there are 11.7 million Americans who couldn’t find a job in the month of March. Ask any of them about unions. Are you connecting the dots?
I suggest one reason may be that in Chattanooga we have a small percentage of fools who work at our VW plant who think they can cozy to the UAW and somehow outfox their German employers when – instead – the crafty Germans can hire many polite Mexicans who will behave and happily work for far fewer pesos.
The rank-and-file at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen plant needs to launch a rigorous and desperate plan to change the corporate belief that in Mexico they don’t have to tolerate unwanted foolishness. I’d sign a blood oath I would never touch anything to do with malaria, diphtheria or the UAW because any of the three are known killers.
We must erase any doubt that unions will never be tolerated in Chattanooga’s industry again because, until that happens, where are your kids and their buddies going to work? Great goodness, we need to attract more industry but I can remember when all of our major manufacturing companies skedaddled one by one. I’m serious. It’s like a Toyota friend explained, “We were little surprised at the obvious lack of industry in Chattanooga. It made no sense until we studied a little and found out why it all died away.”
What the Volkswagen workers should do is somehow convince management they’ll never play with trash again. Dirty hands leave smudges on automobiles. Even a moron knows that every car made by the UAW carries an average cost of $2,500 in union weight. That’s why a Toyota, a Volkswagen, a Honda or other non-union vehicles that are similarly priced with a Chevrolet or Chrysler carry that much more in real value. No? Check any used car prices. This is hardly rocket science and the Germans – who made rockets before we did – have it figured out to the exact Euro.
Nissan, after boldly building a fabulous facility in Smyrna and then adding an engine plant in nearby Decherd, just sniffed the air and – guess what – Nissan recently announced a $2 billion engine plant in (dumb-dee-dumb-dumb) the Republic of Mexico. You hardly have to be my boy Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau to figure out what’s going on. You mention the UAW in Mexico on any given day and the cartels will visit the very next.
Huge global car companies have the choice of building vehicles anywhere in the world. With today’s logistics and superb technology, each and every manufacturer is driven to be smarter, brighter and better than every other competing brand. The United Auto Workers union is considered by one and all manufacturers as lethal. Don’t kid yourself for a minute – General Motors, Ford and Chrysler would do almost anything to be rid of what in today’s modern labor climate is worse than leprosy.
Unfortunately, a miniscule cell of VW workers in Chattanooga has already poisoned the water for everybody by merely allowing the UAW stench to now linger outside the gates. What the VW assembly workers need to do immediately is plead forgiveness and pledge allegiance to every VW official they can find. Forget politics, the economic benefits from an additional VW plant, and the jobs it would provide. When the cancerous cell started playing poesy with the UAW, it was a direct affront to the Germans and their solid values.
Far worse, the UAW instigators’ now-filthy hands – albeit unknowingly -- ripped open an old but vicious wound like you can’t believe. It is a parable that every soul in our area must never forget.
Here's the skinny: Not many people have ever heard of New Stanton, Pennsylvania, or much less ever been there. But I am told a few miles outside of town sits what was once known as the Westmoreland Assembly Plant. Today is nothing but huge, empty acres of rust with a 2,000,000 square-foot building slap-dab in the middle of it.
Back in 1977, this after the legislators in Pennsylvania offered the largest incentive package in the Commonwealth’s history (does that sound familiar?) Volkswagen opened the Westmoreland plant and made cars there for 10 years before finally deserting the place in 1988. It seems there was constant problem that was politely called “labor unrest” courtesy of the United Auto Workers union. More bluntly, it was 10 years of hell.
VW was making a vehicle called the Rabbit at the Westmoreland Plant and just six months after the UAW organized the place – if you can imagine allowing that -- a strike occurred with workers cheering, “No Money, No Bunny!” You see, the once-friendly union abruptly changed its heart, arrogantly demanding the stunned VW to pay the same wages as GM and Ford in Detroit.
All of those who had been hired – out of 40,000 applicants (does that sound familiar?) -- gleefully jumped at the chance to go on strike and, very predictably, bit the very hand that was feeding them. Nobody likes to get gnawed on but, brother, VW got the last laugh with an “adios.”
Volkswagen will never forget such a lesson from America. Two things quickly happened after the padlocks replaced the assembly line 25 years ago. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was saddled with $70 million in lost incentives and loans meant to hire employees. And in 1988 Volkswagen invested $1 billion in a manufacturing site at an unheard-of place known as Puebla, Mexico. Are you connecting the dots yet?
At its peak the Westmoreland plant had over 6,000 employees but today the entire population of New Stanton, Pa., is 1,906. I’m told you can buy a house there for next to nothing but the job market is noticeably lean. Speaking of real estate, only a few miles out of town is the largest commercial parcel in all of western Pennsylvania. And I’ll guarantee you the governor will take $100 down and be ready to close in a great big hurry.
Unless my friends who work at the Chattanooga plant wise up in an even bigger hurry, they will allow the UAW to destroy our golden-egg goose. And if the door isn’t slammed shut and locked tight against any and all parasites, I figure Chattanooga workers who now stand and watch silently have less than eight years max before having to commute to southern Mexico in order to keep one’s job. The Germans aren’t going to stand for such foolishness.
As a matter of fact, the word is that VW will soon announce they’ll soon be building a new and dynamic SUV down in Puebla. It’s unbearably hot in south Mexico and awfully lonely. And the language is a little tough but, oh, you’ll love the tacos.