published Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Pam’s Points: Chattanooga's got poverty, but still no VW SUV


To learn more about Poverty-Free Chattanooga and how to participate in the group’s task force, contact Chattanooga Organized for Action at or visit the group’s Facebook page at

City’s unfortunate ranking

Finally — something we’re not dead last in (but wish we were): Chattanooga ranks 12th in the nation for economic inequality out of the top 100 markets for the ratio of lower ­income households to high-­income households.

For every one household earning $200,000 or more, there are 20 earning less than $50,000.

With 27 percent of the city’s residents living below the poverty line, Chattanooga’s poverty rate is nearly double the national average. And it gets worse. Two-thirds of the poor homes are headed by women and 42 percent of the city’s children live in poverty — twice the statewide rate.

Right here in River City — home of the Gig, Outdoor Chattanooga and entrepreneur central.

Talk about some disconnect.

So what to do? Well, some things are happening that you and we and all of us can be part of.

Chattanooga Organized for Action this week kicked of “Poverty-Free Chattanooga.”

Throughout the summer, Poverty-Free Chattanooga will be hosting additional planning meetings as well as community awareness and poverty simulations workshops.

The group also will collect and analyze ideas and look for ways to build on things others in the community already are doing, like galvanizing the community to elect a strong, energized and aware Board of Education, supporting Mayor Andy Berke’s Baby University to help young moms and dads learn proper parenting skills, and supporting the reading programs of the United Way of Greater Chattanooga.

Where’s the SUV?

While we wait for Volkswagen to decided where to build its new SUV — the one we hope we’re going to get — U.S. Sen. Bob Corker said here this week he’s looking “very closely” at legislation that could permit companies like Volkswagen to create works council-type labor boards for employees without a union.

Looking closely at labor boards legislation introduced in Congress in the mid-1990s which he might improve upon but still not committing to any such future legislation, Corker continues to maintain that VW will eventually bring the SUV production here.

His certainty that the SUV would come here is the same confidence he espoused in February — at least it was until just hours before the Volkswagen-UAW vote, which then seemed the only technicality missing to bring a works council to the plant. But as the vote drew nigh, Corker said an SUV announcement could be expected in two weeks if — emphasis on if — the Chattanooga VW workers voted to reject the union.

They did. The workers cast 712 “no” votes and 626 “yes” votes.

Here we are now, headed into mid-July, and still there’s no “SUV is coming here” announcement.

First Corker and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and other state officials blamed the delay on bringing a second auto assembly line and at least 1,000 new jobs here on a UAW appeal when the union claimed Corker and other anti-union Tennessee politicians interfered with the election after VW invited the UAW in to set up a U.S.-legal works council.

But as it turned out, a “yes” vote likely would have stopped the local expansion, and the blame would have been heaped wholly on Tennessee politicians. That’s because documents outlining the agreements over $300 million in state economic incentives read like this: “The incentives … are subject to works council discussions between the state of Tennessee and VW being concluded to the satisfaction of the state of Tennessee.”

Once the documents turned up, pre-vote comments made by our own state Sen. Bo Watson made much more sense — at least politically. Watson said just days before the union vote, “Should the workers at Volkswagen choose to be represented by the United Auto Workers, then I believe any additional incentives from the citizens of the state of Tennessee for expansion or otherwise will have a very tough time passing the Tennessee Senate.” He even called Volkswagen’s UAW/works council effort “un-American.”

According to news reports after the documents emerged, Haslam withdrew the incentives offer as workers prepared to vote.

That “no” vote was needed to give our politicians some cover.

So, Sen. Corker: Where is that SUV?

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ChattanoogaVol said...

VW's new SUV isn't here and it isn't anywhere else yet because VW is run by incompetent people. It is as simple as that. Their new SUV should have already been somewhere at least 2 years ago. Instead, VW fiddles around while their competition laughs at them. Don't even get me started on VW finally realizing that they have to produce a new updated car in the US more than every 7 years. Good grief. Instead, VW focuses on bringing the UAW into their Chattanooga plant. What a bunch of fools! Figure out how to sell your vehicles in the US for goodness sakes. The sales numbers aren't looking very good. Gee, I wonder why.

July 9, 2014 at 8:39 a.m.
aae1049 said...

Perhaps Chattanooga Organized for Action should attempt to get TIF funds that were allocated for impoverished and blighted areas to actually go to those areas, instead of the golf course at Black Creek. I mean really.

July 9, 2014 at 9:29 a.m.
conservative said...

This is just one of the statements of unity of these community organizers:

"White people have power and privilege at the expense of people of color and peoples of the Global South."



It gets much worse.

July 9, 2014 at 9:53 a.m.
conservative said...

Ready for another statement of "unity" by these far left radicals?

"Men have power and privilege at the expense of women."


Who are they fooling?

July 9, 2014 at 10:03 a.m.
timbo said...

VW is building two plants in China, and their sales are down in the US. They won't even need the Chattanooga plant in a few years. It will shut down just like in Pennsylvania.

July 9, 2014 at 11:49 a.m.
John_Proctor said...

"They won't even need the Chattanooga plant in a few years. It will shut down just like in Pennsylvania."

If this does happen, and it might well, good luck blaming the UAW for the Chattanooga plant's failure.

July 9, 2014 at 12:36 p.m.
timbo said... has nothing to do with the has to do with car companies that don't have to make much of an investment so it isn't fiscally important to keep the plant open. Basically VW just paid for the equipment at the site. They can move that somewhere else.

600 million of our money down a rat hole.

July 9, 2014 at 2:14 p.m.
una61 said...

If Bill Gates moved to Chattanooga then I guess Chattanooga would rise to number 1.

July 9, 2014 at 2:52 p.m.
conservative said...

Here is another "unity" statement by the radical Chattanooga Organized for Action:

"Able-bodied people have power and privilege at the expense of people who are differently abled."

July 9, 2014 at 5:27 p.m.
conservative said...

Here is another "unity" statement by the radical Chattanooga Organized for Action:

"Heterosexuals have power and privilege at the expense of lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, and questioning people."

July 9, 2014 at 7:23 p.m.
conservative said...

Here is another "unity" statement by the radical Chattanooga Organized for Action:

"Heterosexuals have power and privilege at the expense of lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, and questioning people."

July 9, 2014 at 7:26 p.m.
javelin363 said...

ok, back to VW, They wanted the UAW in this plant. They deal with unions all over the world. And as for VW being run by incompetent people remember they are the second largest auto maker in the world. Any incompetence was shown by Corker, Haslam, and other elected officials. They were so intent to keep the UAW out of Tennessee they were willing to lose the addiction at VW. And then in an effort to get the workers to vote against the UAW Corker lied and said if the UAW is voted down, they would announce in two weeks the suv line would be built here. If VW chooses Mexico instead of Chattanooga maybe it is because of our screwball leaders. B.T.W. the plant in Mexico is union and the UAW is already in the state of Tennessee at eight other plants.

July 9, 2014 at 7:56 p.m.
aae1049 said...

VW's are junkie cars in my opinion, and I am tired of being forced to gift them tax dollars. That plant has a lifespan, and VW will leave one day, which could be any day.

July 9, 2014 at 10:22 p.m.
ChattanoogaVol said...

You miss the entire point javelin363. VW hasn't put its complete focus on the American consumer. Instead, it is getting caught up in things that have zero bearing on their ability to sell cars in the US. There is a reason VW isn't selling automobiles in the US like they had hoped (800,000 passats sold per year in the US by when? LOL!). That reason is that VW management can't see the forest for the trees. They don't focus on what matters in terms of selling vehicles to the American consumer. I mean, how incompetent do you have to be to miscalulate the needs of the American car buying consumer by going into this 800,000 passat sales in however long with a policy of changing models every 7 years? 7 YEARS? How long has VW been floundering on a decision for another SUV line, wherever that line may end up? VW is late to the game once again, and the competition is kicking their tails in the american market because of it. Instead, VW puts their focus on things like bringing in the UAW to their Chattanooga plant. Hello! Anybody home? Personally, I could care less if they bring another line to Chattanooga. That's just more tax dollars we the taxpayer will save once VW tucks tail and runs. Given VW's incompetent leadership, it won't matter in the end because VW will be packing up and leaving because they won't be able to sell the automobiles that they need to sell. What reason would VW have to stay? The government, via fleecing the taxpayers, have handed out millions of dollars to VW for the facilities and infrastructure here in Chattanooga. VW isn't on the hook for those expenses.

July 10, 2014 at 8:49 a.m.
timbo said...

Unions are useless except to impede progress. They have outlived their usefulness.

What more do workers at VW want?

July 10, 2014 at 11:28 a.m.
ChattanoogaVol said...

LOL! Just announced that VW is going to allow the UAW to set up shop at the VW plant and sign up workers to join the UAW. This will just speed up VW's exit from Chattanooga. Incompetency strikes again from VW leadership! Now, about selling 800,00 passats per year.....

July 10, 2014 at 1:27 p.m.
timbo said...

17% of VW is owned by the State of Lower Saxony in Germany. That is basically the union.

You are right, VW tolerates unions because of that ownership.

July 11, 2014 at 2:58 p.m.
timbo said...

Another thing, VW wants unions here because their overall labor costs, worldwide, are much more than some of their competition. If the union gets a foothold and then expands to some of VW's competition in the states, it will make VW more competitive worldwide.

July 11, 2014 at 3:03 p.m.
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