Governor Haslam of Tennessee is no fan of unions. That was quite obvious when he and other GOP lawmakers recently did everything they could to stop VW plant employees from joining the UAW. Ultimately they were successful, and for now VW autoworkers do not have any union representation – despite the wishes of the VW corporation that the workers be unionized. This was a huge victory for the anti-labor activists, including Grover Norquist, and they even went so far as to suggest that the UAW would try to take the worker’s guns away. Yup, the good old standby threat of “they’re coming to take your guns,” and it seems to work every single time.
Norquist’s group is going further than simply claiming the UAW will destroy Volkswagen jobs as it supposedly destroyed Detroit. (One billboard shows a picturesquely crumbling Detroit plant that was shuttered 55 years ago.) The website calls attention to what it calls the union’s liberal political stands, such as support for President Obama and for gun control. Obama won 39 percent of Tennessee’s vote in 2012.
“UAW wants your guns,” blares a headline. “As part of a larger strategy to change the political culture of the South, the UAW has already given large sums to politicians who favor strict gun control legislation, including in Tennessee and Alabama.” (Source)
This was a pretty serious setback to UAW and organized labor in their attempts to finally get union representation in a Southern auto manufacturing plant. Trying to unionize in the South is nearly impossible due to a combination of a population convinced for generations that unions are evil and politicians deep in the pockets of the special interests intent on destroying unions across the country. However, on Monday, organized labor scored a small but very sweet personal victory against Governor Haslam’s family business.
On Monday, workers at a Pilot Flying J gas station and rest stop in Bloomsbury, N.J., voted in favor of union representation by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. The station is one of more than 500 Pilot Flying J locations around the country and part of the Haslam family business, which the governor helped to build. The company’s chief executive officer is Bill Haslam’s brother, Jimmy, who’s also the majority owner of the Cleveland Browns.
Charles Hall, president of RWDSU Local 108, said management at the gas station strongly opposed the workers unionizing. But the final vote count was 12-to-7 in favor and the results were ratified by the National Labor Relations Board, according to Hall. (Source)
That’s right, while they may have lost the fight in Tennessee (at least for now), unions still managed to organize one of the stores owned by the Haslam family business this week. As a union member, this couldn’t make me happier. I’m sure that eventually we will organize the VW plant, but for now let’s take a moment to revel in this small measure of revenge. I’ll leave you with a song from the pro-labor band Street Dogs and remember, united we bargain, divided we beg.
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