Tag Archives: Tennessee

Union Defeat In Chattanooga


UAW Suffers Massive Defeat

The UAW is in its death thralls.  Membership is down dramatically and it needs a new source of membership; enter the southern manufacturing states.

Labor leaders say a “yes” vote is critical to the union’s long-term prospects. If successful, this would be the first victory for organized labor inside a foreign automaker’s U.S. operations in the South.

For the UAW to grow, it must make inroads with foreign manufacturers with plants in the United States; most of those operate in the South. A “yes” vote in Chattanooga could provide momentum for organizing at a Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama, a BMW plant in South Carolina and possibly a Nissan plant in Mississippi.

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The State of States

If only federal republicans could govern in the way and manner of state republicans:

Thanks to a Republican governor committed to developing its natural resources, not punishing entrepreneurs who do, Texas legislators are facing an $8.8 billion surplus over the next two years. To the east, Republican governors Bill Haslam of Tennessee and Rick Scott of Florida have also turned recession deficits into budget surpluses. Moving north, Michigan’s Gov. Rick Snyder, Iowa’s Gov. Terry Brandstad, and Indiana’s out-going-Gov. Mitch Daniels, also can now all boast surpluses in the hundreds of millions of dollars. All of these governors managed to turn their state’s fiscal situation around through spending cuts, not tax hikes. Now their budgets are in the black and their economies are growing.

I think it’s important to focus on the second to last sentence in that quote:

All of these governors managed to turn their state’s fiscal situation around through spending cuts, not tax hikes.

And lest we think that this is just a series of circumstances related to an overall nation economic rebound:

Things do not look as good in Democrat-controlled states. Illinois, who massively raised taxes on the rich, still has a $5.9 billion stack of unpaid bills. California, who also raised taxes on the rich, was supposed to post a small surplus this year. But tax collections are coming in at 10.8 percent below budget projections. As a result, the state is now projected to be $1.9 billion in the red by the end of this fiscal year.

Now, if that same fiscal responsibility could translate to the national level.

Fire Departments And Homeowner Insurance

A few years ago the fire department in South Fulton, TN made national news when rushed to the scene of a house fire and —

Let the thing burn to the ground.

It turns out that the family hadn’t paid their $75 annual fire protection fee:

Firefighters aren’t afraid to break down windows and doors to douse flames, but a Tennessee family’s failure to pay a $75 fee stopped firefighters dead in their tracks last week as a home burned to the ground.

South Fulton, Tenn., firefighters stood on the sidelines, watching as flames engulfed Gene Cranick’s Obion County home. They refused to help because Cranick had not paid an annual “pay to spray” subscription fee.

“I just forgot to pay my $75,” homeowner Gene Cranick said. “I did it last year, the year before. … It slipped my mind.”

The city of South Fulton charges that $75 fire protection fee to rural residents who live outside the city limits. When a household has not paid the fee, firefighters are required by law to not respond.

It turns out that when you live within the city limits you pay taxes that support things like fire departments.  But when you live outside those city limits, and avoid paying those taxes, you do not get to enjoy things that those taxes pay for.  Things like fire stations.

The outrage was all the rage at the time.  My liberal talk show hosts couldn’t stop talking about it for days.

Not surprisingly, I took the Libertarian approach:

If you want fire station protection, you should pay for it; if you don’t, then don’t.

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Right To Work: The Negative Impacts Of Unions

One of the benefits to the Tea Party election of 2010 has been the effort to reduce labor’s influence in America.  You’ve seen it in Wisconsin, you saw it in Indiana and now the results coming in from Tennessee.

States are turning to “Right to Work” legislation that allows employees to opt in or opt out of a union.  To be clear, some state allow you to opt out of a union, however, you still “get” to pay the union dues – wonderful option opting out is, yes?

So, how is Tennessee benefiting from their labor stance?

Michigan may be Motor City’s home in most people’s minds, but Tennessee has emerged as another major hub of auto manufacturing and related industries. Big domestic and foreign automakers have several facilities here and are expanding rapidly.

Tennessee, one of many Super Tuesday GOP primary states, has mostly been spared the trauma of mass layoffs, closures and bailouts that plagued the Rust Belt. Business and free-market groups cite a key advantage: It is a right-to-work state, effectively preventing Big Labor from being a major player there.

It’s growing.  And growing rapidly.

And the advantage of Right to Work laws are such that even shops that ARE union are forced to innovate, to invent to become more productive.  If they don’t, they fail.  This same incentive is not in place in full union states.  When all shops are controlled by the unions, the productivity of one slow plant isn’t different than the productivity of the other slow plant.

And why might businesses wanna come to these Right to Work states?

Tennessee’s law has held down labor costs. VW pays $27 an hour for new employees in wages and benefits, about half of the $52 an hour labor cost in Detroit. When the unionized GM agreed to reopen the Spring Hill plant last year, it forced the UAW to accept a starting wage of $15.78

It keep the cost of labor down.  Now, you may ask how that’s a good thing; how paying someone $27 an hour is better for that someone than paying them $52 an hour.

Critics cite the lower wages as proof that the laws hurt workers. But locals say that’s offset by lower living expenses. Nashville’s cost of living is 11% below the U.S. average, the Census Bureau reports. Detroit’s is only 1% below.

Tennessee isn’t immune to the auto industry’s ups and downs, but seems to weather them well.

“We got through the recession without major layoffs,” Woolley said. “There were a lot of curtailments and furloughs (for workers), a lot of short workweeks, but now we are back at full speed.”

When labor is less expensive, the things made with that labor are less expensive as well.  And, as always, while unions may increase wages for their members, they increase wages to the point that fewer and fewer workers are hired in the first place.

Big Labor’s place in America has gone by the roadside; and THAT is great news.