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Politicians Interfering in Business - VW and the UAW

VW & UAW LogosPolitics just baffles me sometimes. Consider this story I heard on NPR yesterday, Tennessee Volkswagen Workers Vote On UAW Membership. The gist of it is that the workers at a VW manufacturing plant are preparing to vote on whether or not to unionize (actually, they were preparing when the story was filed - they're in the midst of a 3 day vote right now). While some companies certainly would rather not have unionized labor, VW has remained relatively neutral. According to the NPR story:

Usually car companies do all they can within the law to keep unions out. Volkswagen, though, has taken a neutral position. German officials say they're accustomed to cooperating with labor groups in the rest of the world.

It seems like it should be a pretty minor story to me. A company and its workers are both in agreement that the workers should have the choice on whether or not to take a certain course of action, and none of the parties involved seem like they would be particularly upset about either outcome.

But of course, I'm writing a blog entry about it, so there has to be more to the story. Republican lawmakers in Tennessee don't particularly like unions, and have made it clear that they do not want the plant to unionize. Here's another quote from the NPR article, describing state senator Bo Watson's stance.

Taxpayers provided a half-billion dollars when Volkswagen built its plant.

And if workers want help expanding, Watson says they can forget about it with the UAW. This is a pretty timely threat since Volkswagen is now shopping for somewhere to build a new SUV.

WATSON: I believe any additional incentives from the citizens of the state of Tennessee for expansion or otherwise will have a very tough time passing the Tennessee Senate.

Republicans usually try to present themselves as the party supporting free markets and limited government. But first, they provided incentives to lure VW to their state (not that I'm particularly opposed to incentives, but they're definitely not free market). And then, in an internal issue between the company and its employees, the lawmakers are trying to interfere to make the company run the way those lawmakers want it run.

Well, I should admit I'm not particularly baffled like I said I was up top. While Reublicans like to present themselves as supporting free markets and limited government, I long ago realized that that was just their desired image, and not supported by their actions. As this episode illustrates, they're perfectly happy with government interference when it supports their goals.

Image Source: Combined images from CarType.com & LogoTypes 101

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