Not-So-Free Enterprise and VW Jobs

July 22, 2014 9:32AM

Beacon CEO Justin Owen had a Letter to the Editor published in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. The letter discussed the UAW, VW Chattanooga, and corporate welfare.

Regarding your editorial “The Chattanooga Jobs Payoff” (July 15): Yes, we are honored that the company chose our income-tax-free, low-regulation and business-friendly state for its new SUV. And it’s a welcome announcement for the 2,000 people who will now become Volkswagen employees. But it didn’t come without a cost, and taxpayers may pay an even bigger price if the United Auto Workers has its way. While you note that Volkswagen “will invest $900 million” in the Chattanooga expansion, you fail to note that at least $230 million of that will come from state and local taxpayers in the form of handouts. Tax credits and job training grants could eventually balloon to as much as one-third of the entire investment, at a cost to taxpayers of at least $115,000 per job. While it is also great that VW Chattanooga employees sent the UAW packing in February, the union only took a temporary detour. The UAW’s establishment of a dues-free, voluntary union just four days ahead of the expansion announcement was certainly Kabuki theatre. But it raises the question: Will VW workers, who soundly rejected the union in February, be able to withstand the union’s rejuvenated pressure to garner majority support? That may be tough now that the UAW has months to wear down and intimidate employees in their own workplace based on what it calls a “consensus agreement” with VW management. We must hope that the company will refuse to capitulate to the UAW, or else the union’s dream of organizing the South may well come true, financed by none other than Tennessee taxpayers. Justin Owen CEO Beacon Center of Tennessee Nashville, Tenn.