TVA board shrinks as Congress exits
The Tennessee Valley Authority begins the new year with one third of its board seats vacant.
When Congress adjourned on Christmas Eve, three of TVA's most senior and active board members left the agency's 9-member board. President Obama has yet to nominate any successors to fill the three vacancies.
Three retired bankers -- former TVA chairman Dennis Bottorff of Nashville, former TVA chairman Mike Duncan of Kentucky and TVA Director Tom Gilliland of Blairsville, Ga., -- ended their TVA employment at the end of the year after their normal terms had already expired in May.
Under the TVA Act, directors may stay until their successor is confirmed or until the end of the congressional session in the year in which their terms end.
Bottorff, who succeeded Duncan as TVA chairman in 2010, gave up the chairmanship in November to Knoxville businessman Bill Sansom.
The only remaining TVA board appointment by former President George Bush is Memphis Bishop William Graves, whose term ends in May.
TVA directors are appointed by the president and confirmed by Congress for rotating five-year terms.
UAW targets VW, Mercedes plants
With new contracts in place with the Big Three in Detroit, the United Auto Workers is turning its sights on two German auto makers in the South, according to Reuters news service.
UAW is eager to unionize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga and the Mercedes Benz plant in Vance, Ala., Reuters reported last week.
Reuters said interviews with dozens of union officials, organizers and car company executives suggest that UAW President Bob King wants German unions that own part of Volkswagen and Daimler to call upon their U.S. counterparts not to fight any unionization bid by the UAW.
"It's a battle the UAW cannot afford to lose," Reuters said. "By failing to organize factories run by foreign automakers, the union has been a spectator to the only growth in the U.S. auto industry in the last 30 years. That failure to win new members has compounded a crunch on the UAW's finances, forcing it to sell assets and dip into its strike fund to pay for its activities."
U.S. population grows 0.7% in 2011
As a new year begins, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are now 312,780,968 residents in the United States. That represents an increase of 2,250,129, or 0.7 percent, from New Year's Day 2011, and an increase of 4,035,430, or 1.3 percent, since Census Day on April 1, 2010.
In January 2012, one birth is expected to occur every eight seconds in the United States and one death every 12 seconds.
Meanwhile, net international migration is expected to add one person to the U.S. population every 46 seconds in January 2012.
The combination of births, deaths and net international migration results in an increase in the total U.S. population of one person every 17 seconds.
VW China workers get 2-year bonus
Volkswagen employees in Chattanooga may be jealous of the seemingly very generous employee bonuses being given by Volkswagen Group China (VGC).
Guangzhou Daily said VW workers in China are getting year-end payments equal to 27 months of salaries. But that may appear far better to most VW workers in America than it actually is.
The basic salary in China is only 3,000 Yuan, or $602, per month. VW says the basic salary in China accounts for only one third of the company's total payroll.
In 2007, FAW-VW gave employees double-salary for two months of the whole year.
The Chinese joint venture manufactured its 1 millionth vehicle of the year in December.
VW's 'The Force' ad most watched video
Volkswagen's commercial highlighting a young Darth Vader figure from the "Star Wars" movies was the most watched video advertisement on YouTube in 2011.
YouTube said the VW ad, dubbed "The Force," had 45 million views on YouTube last year. The ad debuted at the 2011 Super Bowl to promote the Chattanooga-made Passat, which VW began selling through its dealers in August.