Saturday, February 15, 2014

VW vote... good for whom?

On facebook someone posted:
Good News for the South: Chattanooga Volkswagen plant votes against UAW | Times Free Press http://t.co/FszrkTVnx9
Good News for the South? Good news for the workers?  Less money, less benefits, less ability to organize or to negotiate either going forward...  But, the current elected officials say it is good news because they'd "been told" that if the vote passed it would cost TN 1500 jobs for the new VW SUV line at the Chattanooga plant.

Back a few year's ago I was working on a project where we thought we had the chance to land the VW plant and in my research I noted that the Germany workers were going on strike because of the threat of raising their work week from 34 to 37 hours a week with no pay raise.  Adding insult to injury the German facility paid their workers over $60 an hour for their less than 40 hour work week.  The cheerful Chattanoogan's landed the VW plant with a guaranteed $14.50 starting salary. (Can't find the original article, but here's one from Forbes around the same time with similar stats).  Nissan and Toyota came to MS, KIA and Mercedes, VW, Saturn, all headed South... hell as Area Development mag, and many others, pointed out the Auto Industry "flew South"

For many economic development types, every time some nonunion industry lands in the South paying somewhere around $14.50 an hour they get something like a salary bump and a woody... every time some poor folk are willing to work for less money it's a good thing for him.

Most folks understand a pawn broker's MO - the worse off you do, the better for them.  Their bet is that your life will not get better, and you will not be able to "buy back" the goods left at the pawn brokers.  Then they get to sell it and make more money.  But, fewer understand the number of people betting on you to fail... Joe Bageant called them the "pickle vendors" ... and you go to church with them, you're member of local hunting clubs with them, and meet them for breakfast at the local spots,   Here's what Joe said about them:
OK. So the truly rich may not get it. But the most dangerous weasels of all, the ones at the next level down from Dicko -- those little ankle biters trying to get a bigger piece of the action -- they get it all too well. Or at least to the extent they understand that the masses need to be roughed up from time to time. Kept in their place. Now I'm not talking about the barber or three-chair beauty shop or the deli owner up the street. I am talking about the realtors, lawyers and middlemen willing to cooperate in whatever it takes to destroy land use and zoning codes, bust unions and keep wages low, rents high, the liberals down and the "cullids" out. This group of second tier conservative professionals and semi-pros are dead set on being real players someday. On their way up the ladder they will screw you blind and make you beg for your change.
America's small and medium sized towns are run entirely by their business class, those countless little sparkplugs of the American capitalist corporate machinery. They are where the institutionalized rip-off by the rich corporations finds its footing and support. Serving on every local governmental body, this mob of Kiwanis and Rotarians have connections, and collectively can get that 200 acres rezoned for Wal-Mart or a sewer line to that 2000-unit housing development at taxpayer expense. When it comes to getting things done locally for the big guys, these folks can heal the sick, raise the dead and give eyesight to the blind. They are God's gift to the big non-union companies and the chip plants looking for a fresh river to piss cadmium into -- the Rotarian, Lions, Kiwanis Club can-do boys. What makes them especially dangerous is that they are politically active, and have a cumulative effect on the national corps politique.
So, the VW vote is good for the "little ankle biters"... but, it's not good for the rest of us.  Not good, in fact, for any of us as we fall farther on the race to the bottom.  The US isn't competing against other "first world" country's for these plants, it's competing in a race to the bottom against 2nd and 3rd world companies... see, we're willing to do it cheaper!  To sell our folks for a dollar cheaper... we're low cost!

It's obviously good news for the 85 people who own as much as 50% of the world's population, and the 50 most generous philanthropist who gave 7.7 billion dollars away last year (of there more than TRILLION dollars) and as this article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy asks, is it enough that these few are worth so much?  What a good debate... but nobody in the mainstream is asking what Joe did over 10 years ago, what about the 'ankle biters' and "business class' in our towns who are selling the majority down the tube for their own extra pennies?

What a damn mess.

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