That's a nice VW plant you have there. Would be a shame if something happened to it.

So say the thinly veiled threats of the Republican party in Tennessee, where workers at the VW plant in Chattanooga are going to vote this week on whether to join the UAW.

In short, Tennessee has given massive tax breaks to VW in order to entice them to open/expand this plant. Now that the workers might join the UAW, they’re threatening to end these tax breaks for no reason other than punishment. Analysts say that without these tax incentives, expanded production will move to Mexico instead.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about the UAW, having watched their boneheaded antics in Detroit as domestic automakers floundered. However, that’s between VW and the UAW, and these threats from Tennessee Republicans amount to little more than extortion in my mind.

Why does the state care if the unionize?
I can understand VW’s concern but why is the state worried?

According to the article:

ETA: That is, other manufacturers might go elsewhere if Tennessee factories are unionized.

If the workers vote to unionize, that will be bad for Tennessee, according to Republicans. If they yank the tax incentives as a result, that will be even worse for Tennessee – VW might leave the state, and no other automaker will want to open a plant there knowing that the tax incentives they’ve been promised come with an asterisk.

The only way this works out for the good of Tennessee, according to Republican logic, is if their threat works and the workers vote not to unionize. And that’s what makes this such a bullshit tactic.

OK, I can understand that but the quote in the OP said: “Should the workers choose to be represented by the United Auto Workers, then I believe additional incentives for expansion will have a very tough time passing the Tennessee Senate.”

That makes it sound like they’re not seeing business leave on no new business, but they will refuse to help fund it - that’s the part I’m trying to wrap my head around.

What is surprising? Republicans care a lot about workers rights to a fair union vote, except when it seems that workers will actually vote for a union, in which case they resort to blackmail.
I can’t blame them - unless they act now some people might actually make it into the middle class and then what will happen?

These Republican officials would rather the plant not unionize, as they believe it’d stop future manufacturing interests from coming to the state. So, this is just a threat to try and influence the union vote (“vote UAW, and the plant will move to Mexico, because we’ll yank our tax breaks!”), and probably an idle one at that.

It is absolutely a bullshit tactic, especially for a party that supposedly frowns on arbitrary government interference in business.

For example, when government bailouts for the auto and banking industry came with strings attached (by Democrats) on executive salaries and bonuses.

Ah. the “I’m taking my ball and going home!” gambit.

Is their concern valid? I can’t recall any plants from foreign companies voting to join the UAW. I’ve got family working in Toyota and Honda plants that think the very idea is a joke.

As you say, given the UAW’s complete lack of success in the region, it’s unlikely this plant will vote to unionize. I haven’t seen any predictions, but if I were betting I’d bet against the UAW. That said, Republicans view the unions as communism and the auto plants as southeast Asian countries.

In the interest of fairness, it’s worth pointing out (as far as I can determine) that only one state lawmaker, Bo Watson, has issued this as a threat, and that the Republican governor has stated that inventives are not conditional on the union losing the vote. So, I’m happy to call Watson a scoundrel, but only him.

So? Democrats don’t believe in no interference. Of course when the Republicans were in charge of the banking bail out, the execs who took down the economy did not have to want for bonuses, so in that case the Republicans were consistent.

All of the news coverage seems to be coming from the same source, but they all have that quote from Bo Watson along with something along the lines of this:

Make of that what you will.

Given that these massive auto handouts are total bullshit and never pay off, it’s frankly hard for me to understand if the GOP statement is a threat or a promise, and whether it should be taken as good or bad, and whether the UAW should be voted in or not. It’s a topsy turvy world.

The GOP is acting more and more overtly like thugs

Not just auto handouts, but handouts to build other kinds of factories there, or to film movies there, etc. etc. Half the time the handout is based on the promise of lots of new jobs which never happens, or long term employment which leads to the place closing in a year or two. It would be great if all 50 states banded together to tell the businesses to pick the best place and to not expect a bribe.

I dunno, I’d need to see some evidence that incentivizing a company to employ 1500 people would never pay off. I don’t see how it’d be impossible. Fifteen hundred new jobs is x amount of state domestic product and tax revenue, two things state governments want to increase. If the incentive costs the state less than x, would seem to break even to me. I don’t know the specifics of the Tennessee incentives but some states they really only amount to the state not imposing a B&O tax on the manufacturer for x number of years. When you figure that a good number of states don’t even levy B&O as a type of taxation it’s not really that much of an incentive.

because VW doesn’t want it. If you’re trying to attract industry and the company in question is not happy then they move to another state and the state looses the tax base.

Actually, it looks like VW wants the union. That’s what makes the threat so hypocritical for a supposedly non-intrusive Republican gov’t.