Volkswagen employees now have the chance to decide whether they want to be represented by the UAW or not. Thankfully, this decision will be made via a secret ballot election, but one has to wonder whether it is a free and fair election. I understand that UAW representatives are allowed to meet with employees inside the plant while they are on the clock. Are UAW opponents given the same opportunity? As we see from recent complaints filed with the NLRB by VW employees, the answer to that question is no. The NLRB, UAW and German labor union IG Metall are clearly collaborating to deliberately give the advantage to the union. These unfair strong-arm tactics are directly in conflict with what the UAW claims is its new, kinder, gentler cooperative model of union representation. If they are using strong arm-tactics today to unfairly sway a secret ballot election in their favor, why would anyone think they'd cooperate with management or anyone else later on? I hope Volkswagen employees will see the UAW for what it is -- a wolf in sheep's clothing -- and vote against UAW representation.
KEN SMITH City Council, District 3 Hixson
Addiction experts believe there are only three possible outcomes for an addict who doesn't escape the lure of drugs or alcohol: death, prison or a destroyed life. For far too many, including screen stars like Philip Seymour Hoffman, death is the intended or unintended result from an apparent overdose when they can't stay in recovery. Sadly, addiction doesn't discriminate. It doesn't just strike the rich and famous or thugs and bad guys. It invades and controls the lives of "average" people. Numerous research studies have demonstrated that, just as some people inherit genes that cause cancer and other diseases, addicts may inherit genes that make them more vulnerable to drugs or alcohol. Like many diseases, addiction is incurable. But it doesn't have to be fatal. Addiction is treatable. As my sister Sylvia and I wrote in a book we co-authored ("HOOKED BUT NOT HOPELESS: Escaping the Lure of Addiction"), many addicts survive to live a better life, and broken families are often healed. After admitting she was powerless over addiction and turning her disease over to God, Sylvia has been in recovery for more than four years following a 17-year battle with prescription drug abuse. She was hooked but not hopeless.
SHERRY HOPPE, President Emeritus Austin Peay State University