Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
You would think that Senator Corker and Governor Haslam of Tennessee would take pride in a well trained workforce in their state, but they chose to threaten workers if they chose to form a union at the new Volkswagen Plant in their state. The German meaning of Volkswagen is peoples wagon or folks wagon. It was designed to be cheap enough to be available to the average worker in Germany. Although the design was basically approved prior to World War II, it did not come into production until 1946 after the war. The Germans have always valued engineering with highly qualified workers. In fact a now deceased German friend, who worked on the German missile program during World War II, told me that the German War machines were so highly engineered that if one broke down on the battlefield that they could not be fixed by the average German soldier. By contrast, the war machines built by the Allied Forces in World War II were considered sloppy by German Standards, but the US, Russian and other European Allies could repair them in the field and use parts from other machines that had been damaged but could be placed back in service by the American soldiers, who in civilian life had been rebuilding old cars using parts from junked cars. When the Humvee was introduced to replace the Jeep, it did not have any armor plating for the IED introduced by Iraq’s insurgent troops, so the US troops without authorization from the US Army did it themselves until the Defense Department finally got around to requiring manufacturers to include armor plate these vehicles.
If Senator Corker and Governor Haslam of Tennessee had the workers interests, instead of their own political interests in mind, they would not have tried to intimidate the workers at the new Volkswagen plant. A well trained workforce, who the management of the plant is willing include in the running of the plant, should be a desired outcome by management in any company. However, the Southern States have pursued discriminatory policies in both voting and worker rights since President Lyndon Johnson signed into law his Great Society Legislation, in 1964 and 1968, which included laws for civil rights for all citizens regardless of race. It is no secret that workers at the Volkswagen plant would include racial diversity with bargaining rights and employee representation. The German government has pursued these rights and has encouraged technical training because they understand that a well trained workforce can compete with any workforce in the world, and are also the most loyal workers in the world because they are not discriminated against because of race or ethnic origins.
My origins and sympathies are with the South, but when it comes to racial and ethnic discrimination, labor unions, voting restrictions, and other rights of the citizens of the United States in any region, I have no patience with any part of the United States which denies equal rights of its citizens to work, to organize, and to prosper. This is the reason the United States has become a magnet for other citizens of foreign countries who discriminate against the rights of their own citizens. The United States entered into a new era when the Supreme Court of the United States signed the Citizens United law which made a corporation a person. I would not be surprised if ALEC is behind this with its billionaire backers, such as the Koch Brothers. ALEC has been against labor unions, voting rights, and many other measures which guarantee equal rights of all our citizens.
If the State of Tennessee and the rest of the Southern States would still like to join the Union, known as the United States of America, we would welcome them as long as all their citizens are granted the freedom and dignity enjoyed by the more enlightened states. The Supreme Court Justices who claim that voting rights are not mentioned in the Constitution should read it again because neither are atomic bombs, nuclear accelerators, and many other scientific and technical devices such as modern operating rooms, computers in classrooms and homes, and also televisions. So for a state such as Tennessee and many other states north and south, east and west, to prevent and threaten their citizens from voting or participating and bargaining for salary, working conditions, and pay is backward and discriminatory.