Senator Corker Supports Unions for Business Owners But Not Workers
By John Davis LUCA Advisory Council Chair
Tennessee Senator Republican Bob Corker is a friend to the National Chamber of Commerce. In 2008 he was awarded the “Spirit of Enterprise” award by the organization. He has spoken at Chamber of Commerce meetings all over the state of Tennessee on a regular basis. He has a lifetime Senate voting record of 83% approval with the National Chamber of Commerce. No doubt, Senator Corker is a friend to the National Chamber of Commerce.
But exactly what is the national chamber of commerce? According the National Chamber of Commerce website this is how they describe themselves- “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business organization representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions.” It goes on to say “Our members range from mom-and-pop shops and local chambers to leading industry associations and large corporations. They all share one thing in common—they count on the Chamber to be their voice in Washington, D.C.”
So the National Chamber of Commerce is a collective group of business owners who work together to advocate for themselves. In other words- they are a union of business owners.
With Senator Corker’s glowing voting record for the National Chamber of Commerce, his awards from the group and countless speaking engagements at their meetings, one could conclude that Senator Corker is union man- a business union man. However, his support for united organizations stops at the business owners. When it comes times for workers to unite for their interests to be heard, he stands against it.
The Volkswagen Plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee is currently voting on a petition to the National Labor Relations Board for establishment of a union for the workers with the UAW being named the collective bargaining agent for the company. Volkswagen has a longstanding reputation as being a company that recognizes the rights of its workers and has successful partnerships around the work with employee work councils. Their stance on the forming of a union at the Chattanooga Facility is not different, as the company has exercised neutrality during the campaign. While Volkswagen has followed the letter of the law, Senator Bob Corker has taken a different path and worked tirelessly to try to defeat the workers’ right to a fair election.
On Wednesday February 12, 2014 – on the first day of voting- Senator Corker announced he had been assured that if the union is voted down the Chattanooga Facility would be granted an additional vehicle, which means 1500 new jobs. On Thursday February 13, 2014 Volkswagen rebuffed Senator Corker’s claims as Frank Fischer, CEO and chairman of Volkswagen Chattanooga issued the following statement:"There is no connection between our Chattanooga employees' decision about whether to be represented by a union and the decision about where to build a new product for the U.S. market.”
The very company that employs the workers in Chattanooga states they made no such statement to Senator Corker. If the company didn’t tell Senator Corker, then who did? Volkswagen alone will make sourcing decisions regarding future products, so could it be the Senator is simply trying to sway a union election in violation of Federal Labor Laws? The answer may be found in the Senator’s voting records.
Let’s take a look on how he has voted in the past. With the United Food Distributers Association, Corker has a 100% voting record. However when it comes to United Food and Commercial Workers, Corker has a 0% voting record on their issues. On anti-labor groups such as The John Birch Society, The Heritage Foundation, the Americans for Prosperity and the National Journal, Corker consistently votes 90% or higher on issues these groups push. However, when it comes to United Food and Commercial Workers, Service Employees International Union, AFL-CIO, Communication Workers of America, the United Auto Workers and other unions, Corker has a less than 20% favorable voting record.
See Senator Corker is all for business owners organizing to further their interest. It is when their employees seek similar solidarity, that Corker is opposed. A person must ask themselves, if Volkswagen isn’t fighting THEIR employees exercising their constitutional rights- why would a pro business politician such as Senator Bob Corker oppose it? The answer is easy- it is all these other groups that want to keep Volkswagen’s employees from organizing. They don’t want their employees to see how their interests are better served collectively. For men like Senator Corker, democracy is reserved for the top 1% or the population but denied to the other 99%.
If I were an employee at Volkswagen, I would ask myself why a United State Senator would break the law in such an obvious way to keep me from exercising my rights as a citizen.