Pam's Points: On unions, Howard neglect and choices between votes and savings

Pam's Points: On unions, Howard neglect and choices between votes and savings

September 10th, 2013 in Opinion Times

Workers at the Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga may soon vote on whether to become members of the UAW.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

VW, UAW and jobs recruitment

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said Friday that Volkswagen's dialogue with UAW about a collaborative German-style works council arrangement is hurting the state's recruitment of business. And then he specified that some auto suppliers thinking of moving closer to Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant may balk if the United Auto Workers succeeds in unionizing the factory.

Really? Then why doesn't the Teachers union, Tennessee Education Association, hurt business recruitment? It is a statewide union that represents more than 46,000 elementary and secondary teachers, school administrators, education support professionals, higher education faculty, and students preparing to become teachers.

Volkswagen knows a thing or two about making cars, and VW started the dialogue with the UAW to help them create an innovative model of employee representation. All VW plants around the world except here have such representation, and VW says a works council labor board "can only be realized together with a trade union."

VW also has said the workers will decide. Tennessee is, after all, a right-to-work state.

And by the way, the unions in Detroit did not decide to keep making gas guzzlers and driving away customers who wanted better mileage. In fact, they advocated changing the business model to be more competitive. But no, corporate paralysis and a good dose of collusion with gas companies made the decision to keep making the same tired, heavy, customer shunned cars led to the downfall of many American car companies -- and eventually Detroit.

Howard neglect is shameful

Let's talk about something outrageous.

Howard School's stadium has a polluted field and -- until recently -- 60-year-old toilets.

Tell us, school officials, and tell us Hamilton County Commission, how would this play at Red Bank or Soddy-Daisy or Ooltewah or on Signal Mountain.

That's exactly right: It wouldn't play at all. And you wouldn't dare have let it happen in any of those other communities.

You should be ashamed. And you should make a priority of building Howard a new stadium and new facilities on the 20-acre Maurice Poss Homes recently gifted by the city to the school system for that purpose.

Politics and same-sex marriage benefits

What a study in opposites: The reactions of Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on support for benefits to same-sex partners.

In the wake of a recent Supreme Court decision, Berke, a Democrat, backs it, while Haslam, a Republican, doesn't.

"I don't sense a huge demand from most Tennesseans," Haslam said.

In fact, a Vanderbilt poll in May found that 62 percent of Tennesseans support health insurance and other employee benefits for gay and lesbian domestic workers in general. The poll also found that 49 percent of Tennessee surveyed said they support same-sex marriage or civil unions.

But support is really not the point. The point is that the Supreme Court has spoken. Cities and states and employers who don't want to listen are just inviting lawsuits. And that will cost everybody.

So, Governor (and other state, county and city officials): Which are you? The politician who will worry about the vocal conservative votes or the businessman who will worry about wasted tax dollars?