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Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) questions members of the panel testifying before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee in Washington February 14, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)
The UAW is appealing its narrow loss in the recent union representation vote at a Tennessee Volkswagen plant, citing Republican politicians' threats against jobs if workers unionized. The union is asking the National Labor Relations Board to hold a new election. For his part, Sen. Bob Corker remains on the offensive, blasting the union as being "only interested in its own survival and not the interests of the great employees at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen facility nor the company for which they work." Because threatening to block support for VW's expansion if workers did unionize shows that Tennessee Republicans were entirely focused on the workers' interests, don't you know.

It's very uncertain whether the UAW's appeal will be successful. Lydia DePillis points to competing precedents. On the one hand:

... the Board has seen the reverse situation, in which politicians endorsed a union. In 2011, for example, the Communications Workers of America won an election at Affiliated Computer Services, which New York State had retained to set up its EZPass system for road tolls. The company objected, saying that a U.S. congressman and a New York State senator had influenced the election by making statements in favor of the union -- and also by pointing out that they sat on committees that oversaw the company's business.

The Board disagreed, ruling that “public officials, even public officials involved in the regulation of the employer’s industry, like other third parties, are not required to remain neutral and may properly seek to persuade employees.”

On the other hand:
... in 2000, the Board ruled that politicians in the Northern Mariana Islands had sullied an election by targeting non-residents who voted to join a hotel union. The D.C. Circuit reversed its decision for lack of evidence, but didn't touch the principle that lawmakers had the power to create an untenable environment of fear.
Getting a new vote is a long shot, and winning it is an even longer one, given the dedication to intimidation shown by Republicans and outside groups, as well as the fact that some significant chunk of the plant's workers would be unlikely ever to vote for a union, given the anti-union environment of the south. The threats from Corker and other Tennessee Republicans were all upside down—they weren't going to face any personal penalties, and they had the opportunity to make a difference in a close election.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 09:28 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  VW needs to continue to defend workers rights and (20+ / 0-)

    make it very clear that any expansion of VW in the US will not be in TN or any other anti-union area.

    Life is just a bowl of Cherries, that stain your hands and clothes and have pits that break your teeth.

    by OHdog on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 09:35:07 AM PST

  •  my hope is that (8+ / 0-)

    corker did not just try to influence the vote, he tried  to put words in VWs mouth. words that implied a pro union vote would have a negative bearing on VWs decision to move there

    •  live1 - what would that mean if he did? (0+ / 0-)

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 09:57:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  saying how a company makes its decision (8+ / 0-)

        is not a neutral comment, especially when you are not speaking for the company.  corker,  you could argue if he knew of the companies decision process, makes a false statement.  that is misleading.  not neutral. nor is it "proper"

        dont know if that is enough of a distinction for an appeal though

        •  in short-his comments were improper (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pinto Pony, JeffW, VClib, justintime
          •  Improper, but I don't think illegal (0+ / 0-)

            or enough to to provide the basis for a new vote. The cases in this area have a very high bar.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 11:52:08 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Improper or illegal (6+ / 0-)

              what's really the difference?  He likely affected the outcome of the election by outright lying.

              If Republicans want to be anti-union, so be it.  However, working to influence union elections steps over the line.  Workers should be able to decide without coercion or fear mongering.  Anything less is a threat to democracy itself, because what are union elections if not democracy?

              Corkers actions are illustrative of Republican double-speak on unions.  Take their pro "right-to-work" arguments about "free choice" for example.   How does Corkers outright false comments about VWs intentions mesh with that?

              So illegal or improper makes no difference.  It was still a scumbaggy, unethical move either way.  And lack of ethics is a large part of the problem with our political system writ large IMO.

              "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

              by Darth Stateworker on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 02:11:50 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You mean that semantically right? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib
                Improper or illegal  what's really the difference?
                In relation to what?  Legal actions? the formal appeal referenced by this diary?  liability?  ...or just the moral compass of the World at large?

                Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

                by Wisper on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 02:28:18 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yes, semantically. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bobatkinson, JerryNA, Dirtandiron

                  I view it as unethical either way - and lack of ethics is our real problem - as I stated above.

                  Basically, wrong is wrong.  I don't give a shit how it's labelled or whether or not "the law" says it's OK.

                  "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                  by Darth Stateworker on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 02:37:23 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  I agree it was improper (0+ / 0-)

                my point is that it is unlikely to require a new vote.

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 02:44:28 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Sez you. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Darth Stateworker, Tonedevil

                  Why don't you talk about that?

                  •  justintime - there seem to be three cases on point (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    justintime

                    Lake Catherine Footware, Westood Horizons Hotel, and Pacific Micronesia. They set a very high bar to overturn an election based on outside influences. All three cases are outlined in the comments of the few key diaries on the UAW vote at VW that had lots of comments.

                     As I read the cases I don't see the actions by Sen Corker, or any of the state and local GOP officials, reaching the standards set in those cases. The UAW's case is well outlined in their appeal document.

                    "let's talk about that"

                    by VClib on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 07:37:57 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  VClib, Thanks for expanding on your pronouncements (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      VClib, Tonedevil

                      I missed the earlier diaries on this issue.  Corker's rabid anti-unionism and deceptive behavior provokes emotional responses.  Many of us remember the late racist attack on Harold Ford that contributed to winning his Senate seat and his meddling with the auto bailout.  I appreciate your effort in tamping down emotions with some realism.

                      Regards

                •  I agree on that. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  brae70, Tonedevil, JerryNA

                  The law is the law.  As such, a new vote is not likely because Corker, being a 3rd party, didn't violate any rules against fair elections.

                  My point is more along the lines of pointing out that either way, this was dirty and unethical.  As such, maybe it's time to start re-examining the rules.

                  "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                  by Darth Stateworker on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 02:51:11 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  So the company is arguing for (0+ / 0-)

    a new vote in order to encourage unionization?!?!
    Gotta love the upside-down nature of the world we now live in.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 10:34:50 AM PST

  •  Republicans don't want any stinkin' ... (5+ / 0-)

    unions in their state, or gays, or Muslims, or people of color, or ...


    If life weren't so damn hard, we’d have no need for fabric softeners.

    by glb3 on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 10:47:09 AM PST

  •  they'd only have to flip 50 or so... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CwV, Pinto Pony, Hillbilly Dem

    in the hindsight of Corker's pinocchio-ing, it could happen.

    The biogger obstacle is getting the opportunity for the do-over.

    "It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

    by JackND on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 10:48:49 AM PST

  •  Difference between proper and improper persuasion! (5+ / 0-)

    Seems to me that a Senator's threat to use the governments taxing power could be the poster child for the notion of "Improper Persuasion"!

  •  Funny thing (9+ / 0-)

    I grew up in Chattanooga and in the 50's, 60's and 70's it was a good union town. Lots of manufacturers, trucking and all the workers at TVA were in unions. I moved away in 74 but so did a lot of the factories, although I think that was due to cheaper overseas manufacturing. Unions can do nothing about that. But I don't think unions busting had anything to do with that. I'm very upset Corker's doing this.

    I saw an interview with him on C-Span last week and was stunned how he pretended he was a self made man. He's not. He comes from wealth and he just used his connections to advance his business. I know...I went to high school with him.

  •  Its the Dem pols playing 'Wheres Waldo' that piss (3+ / 0-)

    me off. Corker and his ilk were utterly predictable. Vermin always act like vermin. But as the head of the nurses union pointed out at a confab of union officials to discuss this mess, it would be nice if there were some pushback against all the lies and threats from the other side. Or are the workers supposed to rely on Chuck Todd on TV to set the record straight? Dem pols treat unions like that kid in school who'd tell you he really liked you and was your friend, but it was a super secret and you couldnt tell anyone and he'd have to play along when the other kids kicked your ass on the playground. And you know what? That kid was more despicable than the bullies. They were born scuzzballs. He had a choice.

    •  Todays Dems (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DrTerwilliker

      give lip service to organized labor.  That's it.  It's largely because so many of them have become enamored with 3rd way nonsense.

      They do enough to keep the unions campaign cash flowing and union volunteers working for their election campaigns, but that's about it.  Once the election is over, they basically forget about the unions.

      Union leaders, for whatever reason, don't seem to get that.   That may be changing, however.  There is a big push in New York for unions here not to give an endorsement or support to Republicrat triangulator Andrew Cuomos re-election campaign.

      "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

      by Darth Stateworker on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 02:30:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  i would like (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobatkinson

    to see the uaw try to get vw involved and see if they might agree that having a factory in a state that does not support worker rights is not consistent with the way vw deals with their labor and does not support a positive management labor relationship which is necessary for a productive manufacturing atmosphere.

    if nothing else maybe the uaw can convince vw and others to place factories in more friendly areas where the workers are treated with the respect they deserve and not have a hostile environment.

    •  IG Metall (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobatkinson, JerryNA

      VWs union in Germany is already doing that.  They've already gone on record that they will not support expansion at Chattanooga.  Due to the co-determination laws in Germany, and IG Metall as well as pro-labor forces controlling over half the seats on VWs board, it is unlikely VW would expand in TN at this point.

      "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

      by Darth Stateworker on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 02:33:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Seriously, somebody needs to explain to me (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, spacecadet1, bobatkinson, JDPITALIA

    why the workers would vote against having joining an organization that fights for solid wages and benefits and safe working conditions?

    I'm serious. I really just don't understand the logic.

    The older I get and the more I learn, the more ready I will be to fucking trash your bullshit position.

    by TigerMom on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 11:31:39 AM PST

    •  The workers were supporting it until (5+ / 0-)

      during the elections Corker started threatening VW would not expand and build its SUV at the Chattanooga plant, if they went with UAW.   The VW President, Frank Fisher, rebuked Corker and said it wasn't true.  In a show of unbelievable gall, Corker then said he had it on higher authority that it was true and that Fisher was just re-iterating old talking points.

      The workers were scared the whole plant would shut down because they voted for UAW.  Now it looks like Corker told a lie and we will not get the SUV nor any future expansion.

      "The war was expensive to the South as well as to the North, both in blood and treasure, but it was worth all it cost."- General U.S. Grant, Chattanooga campaign

      by Sandy on Signal on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 11:38:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So, they believed a politician over (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JerryNA

        their employer who straightforwardly and clearly voiced their support for unionization.

        Wow.  Just wow.

        The older I get and the more I learn, the more ready I will be to fucking trash your bullshit position.

        by TigerMom on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 06:45:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Was there a quorum for the 2011 decision? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    la58, justintime

    Seems to me that the NLRB was without enough members to field a quorum until the recent appointments by President Obama finally overcame the filibusters. Now the holdovers from the Bush admin are gone and Obama's are in place so I'm betting that a decision will be reached in favor of holding another election. VW is already making noises about doing it's expansion in a pro union state rather than even deal with Tennessee and it's misguided right wing again. Big misfire for Corker if that really happens.

  •  GOPer non-interference = TOTAL hypocrisy (5+ / 0-)

    GOPers lie every time they say they are against government interference in the affairs of business and this proves they are liars- They are only against when government interference is on the side of consumers or workers NOT shareholders.

  •  As an ex-UAW guy I say....DUMB ASS IDIOTS!.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron

    "the plant's workers would be unlikely ever to vote for a union, given the anti-union environment of the south."

  •  Censure (0+ / 0-)

    Can't Harry Reid call for Corker to be censured?

  •  That vote at VW (0+ / 0-)

    Why did the workers in TN vote against their own interests? Was there a massive media blitz paid for by the anti-union faction?  I don't get it.

    Rowland Scherman http://www.rowlandscherman.com

    by motamanx on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 10:03:33 AM PST

    •  I don't think there is a good answer to that. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JerryNA

      Basically, anyone who is not a rich white man and votes R is voting against their own interests.  I guess one should not underestimate the power of playing upon people's prejudicial fears.

  •  YEA!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    justintime

    UAW Local 2278 AFL-CIO
    Thank you!
    KathyM

  •  Pot Meet Kettle (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    justintime

    Corker blasts union as being "only interested in its own survival and not the interests of the great employees at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen facility nor the company for which they work."

  •  Next move, win state elections by lying.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    justintime

    Gerrymandering ,voter ID, Al Gore Florida style election fraud. Fascist (aka Corporate State) will do or say anything needed to protect Corporate $ interest $.

    The primary motivation for the VW union stance was to protect non-union shops from having to raise their wages to keep their workers from demanding higher wages and to keep Local shops in Tennessee non-union ..

    So basically, all Tennessee citizens must for now give up on the hope of a better life and continue to get by on the wages they now have. the effects of this scaremongering will go far beyond the walls of the VW Plant and will linger for years to come.

    I Know , In North Carolina when the Union moved into  the trucking industry there was a fierce anti-union battle.Once the dust cleared, all that happened was the non-union shops adjusted their pay to keep their workers. the industry grew and the state prospered. Being a right to work state the two learned to co-exist.

  •  Please secede (0+ / 0-)

    The South - anti-union, anti-human, anti-worker, and home to the poorest and most miserable people. If only they'd secede.

  •  TYPICAL ANTI-UNION CONSERVATIVE POLITICIANS (0+ / 0-)

    The U.S. needs more unions.

  •  Don't hold your breadth (0+ / 0-)

    The appeal could go all the way to the US Supreme Court and the outcome will be just like Bush V Gore. The 5 Republicans are purchased by the Koch Brothers and they will always side with the Republicans. Roberts has to pay them back for voting for the ACA.

  •  The American Worker (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smileycreek

    The American worker and the pathological corporate mentality has left little for workers to count on.  Low wages, disappearing pensions, if you are lucky enough to even have one.  There is very little workers can do anymore to protect themselves from greedy corporate slave drivers who are only interested in profits over the dignity of their employees.  This is the cancerous corporatocracy that has quickly bought up all our legislators. The American worker has been left in the dirt thanks to companies like WalMart who suck the life out of workers while encouraging them to use social nets like food stamps and WIC in order to survive.  We can count on our legislators to let them get away with it cause their pockets are being lined by their lobbyists.  We've turned the corner big time and the middle class is systematically being destroyed and their wealth is being filtered to the top tear.  God help us.

  •  Where's the respect (0+ / 0-)

    for a major corporation/factory which WANTS to be Unionized? I thought that GopT like Corker were pro-corporation, and GopT bends over backwards to give major corporations what they want.

    GopT try to keep government revenues low by declaring war on rich folks and corporate taxes. But then VW comes out in favor of Unions and Corker stiffs them. That says more than anything else that Corker is following a personal agenda, not a GopT agenda

  •  After all the tampering by politicians... (0+ / 0-)

    a new vote should be automatic!

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