published Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Smith: UAW not pro-growth

Robin Smith

Chattanooga workers deserve the truth in the effort to establish the United Auto Workers within Volkswagen.

After the name-calling by German labor leader Detlef Wetzel last week in the Wall Street Journal -- comparing Tennessee to North Korea, a failed, communist country -- with his full-throated insult of our state's free market policies while demanding our workers accept the UAW, let's inspect the impact of unions by looking right across Volkswagen Drive to the Amazon Fulfillment Center.

Amazon, the startup bookstore now the largest online retailer and one of the world's most valuable brands, is headquartered in Seattle, not a bastion of conservative ideology.

Amazon's founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, is a "Libertarian Democrat" funding same-sex marriage activity, purchasing the left-of-center Washington Post last year, and giving disproportionately to politicians on the left, according to the Federal Election Commission. Amazon.com recently hosted President Barack Obama in Chattanooga just across the street from VW.

Why, then, would Amazon work with their employees and actively discourage the formation of labor unions within their business both in the U.S. and Germany?

Following a secret ballot vote two weeks ago, Amazon workers in a northeastern site rejected organized labor. Amazon issued a statement praising the "the direct connection" as the "most effective way to understand and respond to the wants and needs of our employees."

In a competitive business climate requiring innovation and flexibility, unionized labor won't work.

Since Germany is a common player here, let's look at a Jan. 22 article published in Der Speigel Online that reveals a snapshot of labor unions: "Familiar image problems beleaguer the big unions. They have failed to respond quickly to transformations in the modern workforce ... Germany's main trade unions have been hemorrhaging members for some time."

Only 28 percdent of the German workforce is unionized. In the U.S., 11.3 percent of the workforce pays union dues.

In reading about unions in the international media, a London School of Economics December article best explains why Gov. Bill Haslam, Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and our local and state officials oppose organized labor driven by the Detroit-style tactics of the UAW. The piece notes, "... While trade unions can continue to maintain a strategy of defending the welfare state, they can also play a greater role in the achievement of more equal societies. Labour organisations can only maintain a fundamental role in achieving social justice if they find alternative tools for collective bargaining and fight against welfare retrenchment."

Defend the welfare state? Maintain a role in achieving social justice? Fight against cutting back on welfare?

Organized labor is not involved in any pro-growth society where small businesses thrive or in any culture that champions performance and excellence. Organized labor is a partner in the welfare state to guarantee equal outcomes for a mediocre result.

Tennessee has survived one of our nation's most perilous economic downturns with business recruitment, balanced budgets and a reputation globally as a place to create jobs.

Mr. German Union Leader and Volkswagen, Tennessee is no North Korea. Tennessee and her people have a dignity and work ethic that you have sought. European elitists sneering down your noses won't be accepted -- it's not the Chattanooga Way.

Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party, 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm and serves on Tennessee's Economic Council on Women.

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gypsylady said...

So with low union membership, and a minimum wage that's considerably lower in inflation-adjusted dollars than it was in the 70's, and relatively low taxes, Tennessee is swimming in jobs, right?

It's 11:35 a.m. Do you know where your business partner is?

February 3, 2014 at 11:35 a.m.
Facts said...

If this UAW vote brings this group to Tennessee, our company will move to Texas. It's not a matter of employee representation. It's a matter of how the UAW has and does conduct its operations.

February 3, 2014 at 12:44 p.m.
gypsylady said...

Pssst. Facts. The UAW is in Texas.

February 3, 2014 at 2:40 p.m.
Facts said...

Actually, I have a second company there. I appreciate your loyalty the UAW, but know their operations. Just not the same.

February 3, 2014 at 3:26 p.m.
gypsylady said...

What's "just not the same" as what??? I have no particular loyalty to the UAW. I do have a problem with corporate moochers paying sweatshop wages and letting the rest of us subsidize their low wages and property tax bills. I think even Texans are starting to catch one to the lunacy of that little game.

February 3, 2014 at 3:45 p.m.
GaussianInteger said...

"If this UAW vote brings this group to Tennessee, our company will move to Texas."

Uh, UAW is in TN at several plants around the state already.

February 3, 2014 at 4:21 p.m.
soakya said...

We're not North Korea but we're not a free market capitalist nation either and haven't been for decades. I don't know what the fuss is about, VW and Wacker will both be gone in a few years. And lets not forget the Chamber, elected officials, and Robin and others who were responsible for bringing these companies here.

February 3, 2014 at 4:28 p.m.
Facts said...

Based on all of these comments, you're happy to live on welfare and see all businesses that generate revenue and jobs to leave the state. So noted.

February 3, 2014 at 5:27 p.m.
gypsylady said...

If these businesses wind up costing us more than they put into the economy then they can go sleep on some other state's couch and mooch off them. We'd be better off.

Don't forget Amazon. Now only do they kill local businesses, they have a habit of cutting and running whenever they feel like it.

I've had to sit through Haslam and Coppinger speeches and listen to them thank themselves and the Chamber for buying us jobs. They did NOT thank the taxpayers who are insuring their "investments."

February 3, 2014 at 6:48 p.m.
soakya said...

facts, for someone with the moniker of 'facts" you sure don't have any. go check the financial statements for the state and Hamilton county. I'll add you to the list of those to blame when they fold.

February 3, 2014 at 7:24 p.m.
ibshame said...

The only people who should have a say in this are the workers at VW. They will be the ones to decide whether or not they want the UAW to represent them. If they feel they are being treated fairly and paid a fair wage without the representation of the UAW they will vote "no." Everyone else needs to step back and quit trying to influence the outcome of the vote if they don't work at the VW plant. IT'S THE WORKERS' CHOICE AND NOT SOME LOCAL YOKEL POLITICIAN OR SOME LOCAL YOKEL WANNABE POLITICIAN.

Most of the outcry in this county has come from the GOP side of the aisle. What is their REAL fear of the UAW? As if that had to be asked. LOL

February 4, 2014 at 12:51 p.m.
javelin363 said...

so Robin feel amazon knows better offering $12 an hour jobs then VW offering $18 an hour jobs and just happens to be the second largest car maker in the world. Because of thinking like this unions are needed

February 4, 2014 at 2:48 p.m.
hotdiggity said...

Robin continues to show her true colors. Keep the workers making the minimal amount while continuing to support trickle down economics. If trickle down, low wages, and lack of unions work so well where are all the jobs in Tennessee? Why is our unemployment rate higher than the national average? Robin "Race to the Bottom" Smith has no clue and like the GOP, no jobs program or concern for the average American worker.

February 5, 2014 at 5:38 a.m.
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