The Union Side - And Response

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thank you, Roy Exum, for your side of the anti-union story. I'm sure you've told us everything we will ever need to know about unions. Well, not exactly. Of course, it's no secret that an easily manipulated, cheap, uneducated workforce has been a golden goose for businesses in the south ever since the Civil War ended. After reading your latest column/history lesson, I do understand your recent opinions much more clearly now. We are, after all, a product of our upbringing. 

Has anyone heard of N.F. Thompson? A Former Ku Klux Klan leader and anti-union activist if there ever was one, he was editor of the Tradesman, forerunner of our own News Free Press. Most folks aren't old enough to remember in 1934 there was a textile strike nationwide and the governor of Georgia declared Marshall Law and quickly rounded up strikers and sent them off to camps. So don't think for one second that you can't be anti-union and still employ thugs. Most of our local manufacturers in the thirties were members of the Southern States Industrial Council, a union busting organization that was more than willing to use force to get their way. A few years after that, striking hosiery workers in Chattanooga in 1945 were fired upon and wounded by anti-union folks during a peaceful parade. 

Of course, I need not bring up one of the worst fires in U.S. manufacturing history at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, also non-union, where 146 died trying to escape through locked doors. Nor should I bother mentioning child labor laws, the 40 hour workweek, and workman's compensation; all created with the help of unions. 

Lastly, just remember that today, with unions weaker than ever, the average worker has had less than a two percent raise (when adjusted for inflation) over the last 40 years. Obviously, this is different than CEO salaries, which have grown over the same period at a much more astounding rate of 725 percent. Maybe this helps explain the rash of anti-union letters and editorials from our political and social elites. 

It's amazing to me how we can care so much about horses and so little for the American worker. 

Herb Montgomery
Chattanooga

* * *

Gee Herb, 

Marshall Law - is that George Marshall Law, Thurgood Marshall Law, or the Law of the Marshall Islands? Yet it's amazing how you can quote every  fact of a historic non-union worker tragedy. Unions were an important part of our history, but history is the key word. Notice that the examples you cite have nothing to do with the labor movement in the past 50 years, simply because unions have done little to help the worker during that time, but more to help the union itself. It is an entity unto itself that the workers now have to keep alive, and it desperately needs more members to sustain itself.

If we want to look at the role of the union, specifically the UAW, in recent years in the state of Tennessee, we need look no further than the comparison between Spring Hill and Smyrna. Having friends and family in both communities, some of which were employed by both, the results were incredibly opposite. Smyrna, and Rutherford County, is one of the fastest growing areas in the state. Nissan has been a boon to that area, both in employment and creating many other economic opportunities, and they continue to do so without the union. Then you look at Columbia, where Saturn/GM brought in laid-off UAW workers from Michigan and the locals were lucky to get security or custodial jobs at best. Then, they go out of business and leave the economic wreckage for the locals. Even under the down-sized GM retooling, local unemployment is sky-high, and the economy and job perspective in the area is bleak at best for most families. Not much of a comparison. 

From recent and local history, I would think that Chattanooga stands a little bit better chance of economic success without the help of the UAW.

Lee Crews



Building Our Workforce With Tuition-Free College For All Tennessee Adults

As graduation season has come to a close, we celebrated the hard work and perseverance of so many who have achieved their dreams of earning a college degree. Their college success is not only important to their future lives - but also to the future of Tennessee.  Like many places across the country, Tennessee is facing a skilled workforce shortage. And while we know the ... (click for more)

Why Are Drugs So Expensive?

Diabetes seems to affect more people than any other chronic illness. It causes heart disease, liver and kidney failure and blindness. Eventually it is instrumental in the individuals death.  So why is there no cure?  Go ahead and call me a conspiracy theorist.  My fiancée recently started Trulicity. A once weekly self injection to help control blood sugar.  ... (click for more)

Former City Education Commissioner John P. Franklin Dies

John Porter Franklin, long a leading figure in Chattanooga city government, has died.  He was the city's first, elected black official, post Jim Crow laws, in 1971. Mr. Franklin's father, G.W. Franklin, was a pioneer funeral home director and John Franklin continued in that line. He was first an official in Franklin-Strickland Funeral Home, then he started John P. Franklin ... (click for more)

All School Board Members But Rhonda Thurman Approve Going Ahead With Equity Study

All County School Board members except Rhonda Thurman said Thursday afternoon they are in favor of pushing ahead with an equity study sought by new Supt. Bryan Johnson. Ms. Thurman said she was "tired of bullying tactics by outside groups" such as UnifiEd and Chattanooga 2.0. She said the 132 people who signed a letter in support of the study include people "with deep pockets" ... (click for more)

Randy Smith: The Kindness Of John Ward

Wednesday was a bad day for me. I lost two dear friends and great mentors. On Wednesday morning I was informed of the passing of my first television news director at WDEF TV, Ray White. Ray was a super news anchor and an even better man. Ray and I teamed with John Gray to have one of the highest rated newscasts in Chattanooga history; a 42% share of the audience in November of 1978. ... (click for more)

CASL: Thursday's High-Point Scorers

CUMBERLAND HIGH-POINT SCORERS: None reported. RIDGESIDE HIGH-POINT SCORERS: 19 – Arianna Bond, Izzy Bauer, Drew Bond, Madeline Bond 17 – Beccan Fitzsimmons, Taj Goodman, Adelaide Bond, Jack Fitzsimmons 16 – Brynne Burkhart 15 – Alex Lowry 14 – Ryan Carpenter, Kathy Zeglen, Owen Eastman 13 – Asa Hedrick 12 – Erynn Whaley, Monica Suttles 11 – Wally ... (click for more)