The Center For Server Freedom

Like a junkyard dog, the AP has been continuously following the Alice In Wonderland goings on in Tennessee and its VW auto plant. Analysis previously presented media’s obsession with “both sides” of a political story as a “manufactured naturalness” (Polarization 3-24-14). This story, not being followed by most of the media (and Jon Stewart, etc.), genuinely involves the most complex as well as contemporary form of polarization. On 4-1-14 from the AP we learned that the governor (of Tennessee) offered VW a 300 million dollar incentive contingent on “works council discussions between the State of Tennessee and VW being concluded to the satisfaction of the State of Tennessee” (“Report: Tenn. offered contingent incentives to VW” AP 4-1-14). Governor Haslam, a virulent opponent of unionization, along with the Republican controlled legislature have linked any future “jobs creator” incentives to VW with the non existence of union representation. Prior to the election, Tennessee’s Republican US Senator, Bob Corker, insinuated that VW’s expansion to a new SUV line was imminent if the vote went against unionization. The election went against union representation. Bob Corker’s promised VW expansion announcement never materialized. Governor Haslam claims the incentives were withdrawn prior to the election outcome. The UAW has sued, claiming undue outside influence. An anti-union group at the plant (The Center for Worker Freedom) counter sued, fearing VW would recognize representation by the UAW without an election. “”If the company lets the union walk in anyway, it will have made clear its contempt not only for its workers and the state of Tennessee, but the democratic principle itself,” Matt Patterson, the group’s executive director, said in the release.” (“Anti-union groups worries of VW recognition of UAW Anti-union group raises concerns that Volkswagen could recognize UAW without vote” AP 4-7-14) All of this has left VW between a rock and a hard place. “Volkswagen wants to create a German-style works council at the plant representing both salaried and blue-collar workers. But to do so, it has said it must work with an independent union” (4-1-14). Yesterday we learned “By German law, labor representatives make up half of the company’s 20-member supervisory board, meaning they have veto power over major management initiatives including the expansion or construction of plants.” (“Volkswagen expansion talks at standstill in Tenn.” AP By ERIK SCHELZIG 4-8-14) “”Local Republican politicians such as Mr. Corker and Mr. Haslam interfered outrageously with the ballot,” said Osterloh [Bernd Osterloh, head of VW’s global works council], who reiterated the company position that only economic factors would decide whether the plant would be expanded.” (4-8-14) This recent article summarizes the stalemate superbly: “Since then, the union has challenged the outcome of the vote with the National Labor Relations Board; a top labor representative on Volkswagen’s supervisory board told Chattanooga workers that U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam “interfered outrageously” in the election; and the governor has suggested that the state has been unable to engage in negotiations with a VW official with final decision-making power. State incentives for expanding the plant would have to be approved by the state Legislature, which is preparing to adjourn for the year in the next few weeks. But Haslam told reporters last week that there were no active talks with the German automaker.”

Analysis would agree with Alice that this gets “curiouser and curiouser.” There definitely is a profound polarization at play, one with covert as well as overt elements. It is a curiously contemporary American one, though Analysis suspects it is probably global as well. The polarization is certainly not the Marxist “labor vs. management” kind of 50-100 years ago. On the one hand we have a global corporation that includes diversity and labor representation within its decision making process (by choice and design as part of its DNA, one could say). On the other hand we have an ad hoc The Center For Worker Freedom defending the integrity of workers, the State of Tennessee and democratic principles. And then there’s the Republican legislature, administration, and federal representatives of that integrity of the State of Tennessee. What is one to make of all this? Where is the polarity? Citizens United (and now McCutcheon) have made the Center For Worker Freedom possible through the legitimacy of dark money, its untraceable-ness. The AP reported on this aspect of Mr. Patterson’s group earlier this year. A link between the Center’s endeavor to defend American integrity and folks like Haslam, Corker and the Tenn. legislators may be obvious though the evidence and proof are completely circumstantial (thanks to Citizens United and McCutcheon). Analysis wishes to consider two historic figures that cast light on this, Henry Kissinger and Karl Rove. Henry, as President Nixon’s secretary of state, is reported to have claimed it is preferable to work/negotiate with a dictatorship than with a democracy, for a dictator is efficient and predictable, while a democracy is messy and unpredictable. Karl Rove mastered the pay to play exclusivity strategy: If our party controls the purse strings, then you must support us exclusively if you wish to be the recipient of that largesse. Both are readily apparent in the ongoing Tennessee melodrama. It is not a “pro business” Republican party at work there, but rather a Karl Rove “pay to play” exclusivity Republican party – our way or the highway. Analysis finds the polarization to be along the representational, messy democracy versus the highly efficient and lucrative rule of ensconced corporate sales leaders. They are sales leaders for the corporate interests that supply the dark money (not the corporations like VW who do not wish to participate). VW could change all that by “going along to get along”, something it has refused to do. The Ohio connection would be the recent move by the state legislature to define student athletes as not being employees of the institutions they generate revenue for. (Once again, like Tenn. a Republican controlled house, senate, governor and state supreme court). The polarization between representative, messy democracy and rule by corporate sales leaders becomes apparent with this move. It would be only a hop and a skip to legislating that those who serve food are not employees of a restaurant. It is not difficult to imagine a Center For Server Freedom springing up to defend the integrity of servers, the State of Ohio and democratic principles.

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