... And Another Thing: VW, Mapp, Votes and Israel

... And Another Thing: VW, Mapp, Votes and Israel

August 4th, 2014 in Opinion Free Press

VW Silence Deafening

If there was any doubt Volkswagen desperately wants the United Auto Workers to represent workers at the Chattanooga plant, its deafening silence on UAW's organizing activities in violation of the agreement the union signed in February speaks volumes.

Before the union lost a vote to represent workers at the plant, it signed a neutrality agreement to "discontinue all organizing activities at the Chattanooga plant ... for a period of not less than one year beginning with the date of the election."

However, the union said recently it had signed hundreds of VW workers as members of a non-dues-paying local near the factory. And a VW employee said union supporters are handing out Local 42 membership cards during work hours inside the plant.

Naturally, UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel denied the union is breaking its agreement, though he admitted the local was signing members.

To take the union before the National Labor Relations Board for breaking its agreement, though, VW must make the move. The fact it has not done so -- and that VW supervisory board members Berthold Huber and Bernd Osterloh even have spoken in favor of the union -- is irresponsible and does not speak well for the company being neutral in any further union organization at the plant.

Jobs Lead To Crime?

Reasonable people can argue about the fiscal worthiness of property tax breaks for businesses and even whether the process of awarding them needs more transparency, but NAACP President James Mapp's recent comments in a news release that such negotiated breaks have caused "crime," "homelessness" and "minority vote dilution" are patently ridiculous.

If anything, such breaks go to businesses which have made substantial investments in the community to, first, manufacture a product or offer a service, but, more importantly for the city, supply jobs.

As Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Ron Harr correctly pointed out, jobs tend to eliminate crime and homelessness.

Mapp didn't give specific examples of how property tax breaks have fostered the problems he alleged, but one example of how a property tax break could change a community may be found in the former Harriet Tubman homes site in East Chattanooga.

With the homes in ruin and crime rampant in the area, the Chattanooga Housing Authority decided to close the housing development in 2011. Earlier this year, the city bought the site for $2.6 million and now looks to locate large companies with living-wage jobs on what is the second largest plot of city-owned land available for development.

Jobs in the underemployed neighborhood should, in turn, decrease crime and homelessness. And that, Mayor Andy Berke said of the deal in March, "benefits East Chattanooga and the entire city."

Not In Lockstep

Two votes. Three Tennessee Republicans. Three outcomes. That was the case with the veterans and highway transportation bills passed by the United States House and Senate on Wednesday and Thursday.

Sen. Bob Corker voted "no" on both, saying the transportation bill only temporarily patches the Highway Trust Fund and saddles "future generations with the consequences of our irresponsibility." The veterans bill was "rushed through" ... "without [Congress] thoroughly reviewing its full impact on future generations and without knowing if it will address the systemic problems that exist at the VA."

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Chattanooga, whose campaign site says he believes "we do not need more government intervention," voted for both bills, though neither one has long-term funding solutions.

Rep. Scott Desjarlais, R-South Pittsburg, did not vote on either bill. For the record, neither did Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander.

A Time To Stand Up

Bravo for the recent Stand in Solidarity with Israel event at Waterhouse Pavilion.

For too long, Jews and supporters in the United States of its Middle East ally had been silent, wanting to be seen as peaceable people not anxious for war but seeing the terrorist group Hamas use human shields -- including children -- to cloak their cowardice in Gaza when Israel seeks to retaliate for deeds perpetrated on its people.

The recent violence in the area was begun on June 10 by Palestinians, who kidnapped and killed three Israeli students attending a religious school on the West Bank.

Hadas Peled, an Israel native who spent the last year as a cultural emissary in Chattanooga, may have spoken for Israelis and their supporters all across the U.S. when she said here last week, "We've had enough."

A day later, a cease-fire announced by U.S. and United Nations officials offered brief hope, but on Friday, just 90 minutes into the cease-fire, Hamas emerged from a tunnel, detonated a suicide bomb and took one Jewish hostage back through the tunnel.

So, while peace should be the goal, Israel and its supporters apparently have adopted a phrase attributed to Thomas Jefferson: "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."