Disturbed By Entry Of UAW At Volkswagen - And Response

Friday, February 7, 2014

I am most disturbed by the entry of the UAW at Volkswagen.  Ask any old timer what the unions did to Chattanooga's steel and foundry business long years ago.  If the employees would study Chattanooga's history with unions, they would think twice about this decision.

Governor Haslam, Senators Corker and Alexander are correct to be very concerned.  It has taken decades for our city and our state to recover.  We are proud to be a Right to Work State and this could be the beginning of a point of no return.  The majority of citizens were pleased that Volkswagen came to Chattanooga even though our city spent a huge sum of taxpayer's money in the process of sealing the deal, including waiving property taxes for VW for many, many years.  We've been pleased that they have made such a generous contribution to our community, but ask any long time citizen 50+ years old if they would have been so pleased had they foreseen the introduction of the UAW.

I would imagine that VW is a great place to work just the way it is. If you feel it isn't, look for other employment rather than ruin it for those who are satisfied. Also remember, the taxpayers who provided funds to help build this plant will also be the ones to continue to pay taxes for it once it is shuttered by the UAW just like their Pennsylvania plant. I can only imagine how horrified the satellite businesses who moved to this area in support of VW are at this point. 

Employees need to remind themselves that if this goes through they will no longer be in charge of their own destiny, but this issue is bigger than just you --  there will be no more automotive manufacturers coming to Tennessee.  There are too many neighboring southern states who will welcome them with open arms.  As for me, any thoughts of purchasing a Volkswagen have definitely been put on hold.

Cynthia Patterson

Chattanooga

* * *

I'm disturbed and weary of all of the predictable letters and opinions from folks that don't work at Volkswagen telling the folks that do work there how they should vote. It's for sure their right, but I find it sad we have rich folks (Roy Exum) and politicians (Ken Smith) and wanna-be politicians (Randy Fairbanks) jumping into the business of VW employees with both feet. In the latter's case, at least I know who I'll be voting against in District 1. Hopefully, VW employees are mature enough to think for themselves and will vote accordingly. Now, some folks are even saying that the industry and manufacturing gone from Chattanooga was, of course, because of unions. Really? Ever heard of air pollution regulations and the EPA? There's your smoking gun (no pun intended).

Right now unions are weaker than ever, and what do we have? Well, have you noticed the amount of items at Walmart made in China? Have you noticed the shrinking middle class and how it now takes two breadwinners working two jobs to make what one of them could have made 40 years ago? Have you noticed the incredible corporate profits and CEO salaries compared back then? Have you noticed how Amazon barely pays minimum wage (if minimum wage was where it should be, based on what it was 40 years ago) yet we think that's absolutely awesome and we are so lucky to have those jobs? The sad fact is, things are only going to get worse for the American worker. Outsourcing and greed have robbed the American worker of the chance to make a decent living and feed his family, yet we blame unions. We really should blame ourselves for allowing companies to make cheap items in every country but the USA.

Let's take it one step further. High gas prices? That's the unions fault. Snowstorms? Blame the union. Your dog died? The UAW probably poisoned it, too. The VW plant closing in PA? Well, it couldn't possibly be because they were making the antiquated Rabbit hatchback, a vehicle whose sales had slumped over the prior eight years fully by one third. It also couldn't have been because VW plants in Germany were putting intense pressure on management to invest money and new model development in the German plants instead of the US plant. Nope, it was all the union's fault.

There's a lot of reasons things have gone wrong over the last 40 or 50 years, making the middle class more of a fantasy than a reality, but don't blame the unions. Blame yourselves.

Herb Montgomery
Chattanooga


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