Below are letters to the editor received recently about the Volkswagen/United Auto Workers union vote. Because of the large volume of letters on this topic, not all could be included in the print report before the vote concluded.
The circus is in town. "Bring on the clowns. Don't Worry they're here." First political hack Robin Smith recycles the discredited lie that the UAW destroyed Detroit. If Ms. Smith had a creditable education, she would know bad management brought down the American auto industry.
Then Gerald McCormick and Bo Watson threaten the goose that laid the golden egg. Can you imagine what the VW CEO thinks when he gets a load of these two local yokels?
In the finale, Bob Corker freaks out that someone might think that he supports working men and women. Don't worry, Bob. Your record speaks for itself. You are owned lock, stock and barrel by big money. Banks, Wall Street and foreign corporations call the tune and you dance. But, Bob, you should stick with what you know - like building Walmarts in wetlands - and leave international car manufacturing to those who are competent.
TERRY STULCE, Ooltewah
Gov. Haslam said the state had a lot of money invested in VW, but he failed to mention how stupid that is. The government has no business gambling with hard-earned taxpayer money. We the people are getting the same lousy return from state investments in Alstom and Wacker.
I find it interesting Corker, Haslam, Alexander and all the other Republicans are willing to invest in foreign business, and at the same time won't back labor looking to level the playing field through labor negotiations - even knowing labor unions help the pay scale for the entire working community. Of course our elected officials already have theirs, and they like the separation of the rich and poor. None of the above will work to bring American manufacturing home, but they will work to invite foreign investment on our soil.
I hope the VW workers vote for the union; it will be good for all of the workers in the Chattanooga area.
Please inform your readers as to what vested interest every state and local politician has in the Volkswagen union vote; And, does that mean that those of us who do not come from political backgrounds are not capable of making a rational decision?
On the eve of the UAW vote at Volkswagen and one of the state's predicted "winter storms of the year," Tennessee's governor found it to be more important to be eating dinner at the White House with some top socialist leaders, President Obama and France's President Hollande. Priceless.
Our community welcomed Volkswagen with a lot of hope for a future that included new businesses and more jobs for our families.
Now, we're learning that Volkswagen isn't keeping its word in honoring our state's right-to-work status and is now working with the United Auto Workers. Millions of dollars later, Chattanooga is learning that the UAW, headquartered in Detroit will be given the power to determine contracts for all workers at the VW plant.
If you decide to join the union, your pay won't be based on your work, attendance or success. It will be based on what an outsider decides it to be. If you have a college degree, a high school degree, previous experience, it won't matter. It's about the union.
I am running for the Hamilton County Commission in District 1 to keep our area competitive and free of interests like the labor union that hurts the average worker and will actually devalue our children's' education.
UAW, you're not welcome.
If you are eligible to vote in the union election at Volkswagen, you must vote. You may think it's not necessary because right-to-work laws protect your right not to join the union should it be voted in.
Are you familiar with the term "scab?" Scabs are those who choose to cross union picket lines during a strike, and they are not very popular with union members.
Right-to-work laws have created a new breed of scab, i.e. those who choose not to join the union in a unionized plant because it is their right not to do so. A worker quoted in a Saturday article in the Times-Free Press said the atmosphere at VW is "divisive" as the election approaches. Imagine how divisive it will be if the union wins and the losing minority choose not to join or pay dues.
If you are happy with your job, vote "no" because union representation will do nothing for you other than cost you dues. If you are not happy, remember how many thousand people applied for the job you hold and would be happy to be your shoes today.
STEVE BERNTHAL, Blairsville, Ga.
Reading Robin Smith's article castigating unions and giving examples of poor behavior on the part of a few, reminded me of Jesus saying, "why beholdest thou the mote in thy brothers eye, but considerest not the beam in thine own eye."
Why were unions necessary? Read, Making Steel and Killing Men by William Hard. It exposes the mayhem in the steel industry. As many as 597 victims at the Illinois Steel Company in 1906. Hard said, "the American Institute of Social Services reports that 536,165 are killed annually in industry."
A factory fire in New York in 1911 killed 146 workers, some teenagers. There were no sprinklers, no audible alarms and the stairwells and exits were locked. Many jumped to their deaths. This created the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.
Further, just during the years of 1907 - 1909 there were fifty coal mine disasters resulting in 1,779 deaths. Deaths were occurring in mines as early as 1869. Thank God for John L. Lewis.
This is a new day. Steve Cohen rightfully said, "UAW and VW are working to redefine American labor-management relations for the better." Mark Wiedmer said, "unions exist to begin with, because too often private enterprise has done the wrong thing by its employees as a nod to the almighty dollar." Amen!
WILBOURNE C. MARKHAM SR., Walden Tenn.
I am writing to comment on your Brooks/Spencer Editorial in the Perspective section of the Sunday Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Mr. Brooks posits the Union party line, which today is no longer is sufficient in outlining the advantages of unionization. Mr. Spencer succinctly outlines the reason we do not need unions in today's work environment.
I ask: "What are the safety issues that are a hazard to VW employees in Chattanooga? Have VW employees been complaining about low wages and safety issues? Why do employees need union representatives to give them a voice in decision-making and other issues of concern? From what I read in the paper, hear on local and national media and understand from other venues, none of concerns exist at VW Chattanooga. In fact, employees have made very positive statements to the contrary.
Lastly, if VW is concerned about empowering employees and giving them a voice in the decision-making process, then all they have to do is change their leadership methodology and include them in the process. They need a modern leadership strategy, which involves employee participation and empowerment.
To all my fellow Tennessee autoworkers at Volkswagen in Chattanooga: Congratulations on the opportunity you have in front of you! I sincerely hope and pray that you take advantage of it.
We hope someday, our company here will live up to the model displayed by VW; to respect workers' rights and welcome your valued participation into the decisions and operations of your plant.
We are inspired, not just by your dedication to one another and to the committed success of your plant, but also by your ability to ignore the non-involved, outside, third parties who are trying to spread fear and intervene in the relationship between you and your management.
After 29-plus years and a couple of attempts to organize our plant, one thing is very clear to me. The threatening and intimidating behavior displayed by Nissan management and many of the same outsiders has prevented the autoworkers at our plant in Smyrna from making a peaceful, informed decision in a fair, open, respectful environment. I feel our plant is much the worse because of it. You have found a way to avoid walking in our shoes.
We will be watching and cheering you on!
EDWARD ENSLEY, Nissan-Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Tenn.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and his Nashville cronies have taken to howling about the UAW elections at VW, calling the UAW attempt "unpatriotic" and "un-American." "Unpatriotic" and "un-American" for trying to have a business contract?
For the Haslam yellers, it is OK for dealers to have contracts with manufacturers for an exclusive area to sell cars - but not for an auto workers' contract. It is also OK for TVA and Erlanger biggies to have good contracts that also have big money for being fired.
Look, this is a "right-to-work" state, so Tennessee workers have the right to work for $200 or more a week less than union rates, to be fired if the boss comes in with a hangover or in a hissy fit, to work 30 hours in 7 days, or to cut brick and block without masks.
The Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce has a local radio ad. The ad tells businesses to join the Chamber so that "we" can work together to make more money! And the Chamber gets $10,000 each year from the city. I bet no union ever gets any money from the city.
But workers working together is "unpatriotic" and "un-American." I guess that is Haslam's idea of Tennessee "free enterprise."
STEPHEN NEMECEK, Chattanooga