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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Retail Apocalypse? Major Chains Closing Hundreds Of Stores

(Daniel Jennings) Hundreds of stores across the nation are closing as some of America’s most famous retailers struggle to stay in business.

The country is facing what CNBC has labeled a tsunami of store closings and blogger Michael Snyder has called a retail apocalypse.

Sears, K-Mart, Best Buy and JC Penney are among the big names in American retail that could disappear in the coming years, according to investment analysts. If or when these chains collapse, thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in sales tax revenue will disappear.

Major retailers are posed to close 300 stores in the United States this year and that is only the beginning, CNBC reported. Up to half of the retail stores in the United States could disappear in the next 10 years, analyst Michael Burden told CNBC.

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Hello! With the demise of labor unions, fair wages and decent benefits - what the hell did these idiots expect

The reason that retail stores are folding is because wages have been stagnant or declining for DECADES. There are many people who cannot afford anything but the basics of life these days. Henry Ford figured out a long time ago that if he did not pay his workers a living wage, they could not afford to buy his product - and that is exactly what is happening now.
This is just amazing, and shows to what length these anti-union communist fanatics will go to!

U.S. senator drops bombshell during VW plant union vote

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said on Wednesday he has been "assured" that if workers at the Volkswagen AG plant in his hometown of Chattanooga reject United Auto Worker representation, the company will reward the plant with a new product to build.

Corker's bombshell, which runs counter to public statements by Volkswagen, was dropped on the first of a three-day secret ballot election of blue-collar workers at the Chattanooga plant whether to allow the UAW to represent them.

Corker has long been an opponent of the union which he says hurts economic and job growth in Tennessee, a charge that UAW officials say is untrue.

"I've had conversations today and based on those am assured that should the workers vote against the UAW, Volkswagen will announce in the coming weeks that it will manufacture its new mid-size SUV here in Chattanooga," said Corker, without saying with whom he had the conversations.

In the past few weeks, Volkswagen officials have made several statements that the vote will have no bearing on whether the SUV will be made at the Chattanooga plant or at a plant in Puebla, Mexico.
National Labor Relations Board expert Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt, who is professor of labor at the
University of Indiana-Bloomington, said Corker was trying to intimidate workers into voting against the union.

"I'm really kind of shocked at Corker's statement," said Dau-Schmidt. "It's so inconsistent with what VW has been saying and VW's labor relations policy in general."

The Indiana professor also said Corker's comments "would be grounds to set the election aside and have to run it all over again at a later date" because it could be ruled to be interfering to the point that it is against federal labor law.

A spokeswoman for Corker did not respond when asked whether the senator also meant that a vote for the UAW would mean that the plant would not get the new product, which could create an estimated 1,500 new jobs.

Volkswagen officials did not return calls and emails for comment on Corker's statement.
Mike Burton of Southern Momentum, an anti-UAW group of plant workers, said Corker's statement makes sense.

"We are in a battle with Mexico on where this new product goes," said Burton, "and it stands to reason that the union will add costs. We need to keep costs down to fight for that new product."

Another labor expert, Harley Shaiken of the University of California-Berkeley, said, "The senator's comments amount to economic intimidation that undermines the whole nature of union representation elections."

Shaiken often advises UAW officials.

"If the senator's statement doesn't violate the letter of the law, it certainly violates the spirit of the law," Shaiken said.


Gary Casteel, UAW regional director for a 12-state area that includes Tennessee, said on Wednesday night, "Corker's statement is in direct contradiction to Volkswagen's statements.

"They have specifically said that this vote will have no bearing on the decision of where to place the new product."

In the past, Casteel has said that Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant, opened in 2011, needs a second product to survive. It has built the compact Passat sedan since it opened.

The plant has about 1,550 Volkswagen workers eligible to vote in the election, which is supervised by the National Labor Relations Board.

Pro- and anti-UAW workers said they were not sure if snowy weather will affect turnout for the vote, which ends on Friday when the plant does not produce cars.

On Wednesday - day one of the vote - the night shift was canceled after only one car was produced because snow prevented workers reaching the plant, said two VW employees who wished to remain anonymous.

A source familiar with the plans of the Volkswagen supervisory board which makes decisions on product placement said that the board has not yet made a decision on the issue, and that it will take it up in a meeting on February 22.

Corker on Tuesday returned from Washington to hold a Tuesday press conference at his downtown Chattanooga senate office in order to speak against the UAW in time for the worker vote at the plant.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

This is just unbelievable. Both the company and the workers are fine with a union, but because of this, the government is going to punish VW. This shows you how fanatical and anti-freedom the anti-union movement is.

Here is a CEO that has figured it out. If you treat your workers like human beings, not resources, if you pay them a good wage and give them good benefits - the company will benefit and EVERYONE will be better off, not just the top level management and shareholders!

VW union vote could halt state incentives

A crusade by anti-union forces in Tennessee, including the state's governor and a senior senator, now is as much a fight with Volkswagen management as with the United Auto Workers union.

Volkswagen's neutrality has been challenged by opposition groups. They charge that the German automaker is, in fact, carefully orchestrating a plan to help the UAW win the election.

Some 1,500 VW workers at the plant vote Wednesday through Friday on UAW representation. The secret balloting will be overseen by the National Labor Relations Board.

On Monday, state Republican leaders accused Volkswagen of supporting the UAW and they threatened to withhold any tax incentives for future expansion of the three-year-old assembly plant in Chattanooga if workers vote to join the UAW.

"Should the workers at Volkswagen choose to be represented by the United Auto Workers, then 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," State Sen. Bo Watson, R-Chattanooga, said in a statement sent to the Free Press.

A worker opposition group called Southern Momentum echoed that position in a statement.

"Further financial incentives — which are absolutely necessary for the expansion of the VW facility here in Chattanooga — simply will not exist if the UAW wins this election," Maury Nicely, a
Chattanooga labor lawyer representing Southern Momentum said.

Today's threat comes less than 48 hours after Volkswagen said it favors a German-style works council with union representation.

"Outside political groups won't divert us from the work at hand: innovating, creating jobs, growing, and producing great automobiles," said Sebastian Patta, Volkswagen Chattanooga vice president of human resources.

The anti-union forces now are countering that VW isn't neutral, it is pro-union.

Volkswagen said workers in favor of and opposed to UAW representation have had opportunities to distribute information and talk to other workers.

"U.S. labor law requires VW to have a union in order for the works councils to be legal. If Volkswagen workers vote for the union it is expected to have a ripple effect on other auto manufacturers in the southern United States and their suppliers," according to Art Wheaton, automotive industry expert and senior extension associate at Cornell University.

"UAW International President Bob King has staked his legacy and reputation on the ability to organize a foreign automaker in the South. Volkswagen's global corporate philosophy and strategic advantage is having 'works councils' represent the plant workers and management in major decisions including locating new vehicle production," Wheaton noted.

In January, Volkswagen said it will invest $7 billion in North America over the next five years in its quest to sell more than 1 million Volkswagen and Audi vehicles in the U.S. by 2018.

A new SUV is seen as key to reaching that goal.

Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagen's global CEO, would not say where the SUV would be built, but Chattanooga is a likely site. Winterkorn said the decision would not be influenced by whether workers vote to join the UAW.

Volkswagen also has a plant in Puebla, Mex.

If workers at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee vote for UAW representation the union and
company will form a German-style works council at the plant.

A 20-page legal agreement for a union election between the UAW and Volkswagen says that the UAW has agreed to delegate to the works council many of the functions and responsibilities ordinarily performed by unions.

"Our works councils are key to our success and productivity. It is a business model that helped to make Volkswagen the second largest car company in the world," Frank Fischer, chairman and CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga said in a statement.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Mass sea star deaths off US west coast puzzle scientists

Washington (AFP) - Starfish have been mysteriously dying by the millions in recent months along the US west coast, worrying biologists who say the sea creatures are key to the marine ecosystem.

Scientists first started noticing the mass deaths in June 2013. Different types of starfish, also known as sea stars, were affected, from wild ones along the coast to those in captivity, according to Jonathan Sleeman, director of the US Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center.

"The two species affected most are Pisaster ochraceus (purple sea star or ochre starfish) and Pycnopodia helianthoides (sunflower sea star)," he wrote in a statement in December.

The sunflower sea star is considered among the largest starfish and can span more than a meter in diameter.

The most commonly observed symptoms are white lesions on the arms of the sea star. The lesions spread rapidly, resulting in the loss of the arm. Within days, the infection consumes the creature's entire body, and it dies.

Entire populations have been wiped out in Puget Sound off the coast of Washington state, in the Salish Sea off Canada's British Columbia as well as along the coast of California. The mortality rate is estimated at 95 percent.

Scientists who have spent decades studying the local ecosystem have yet to identify the cause.
"What we currently think is likely happening is that there is a pathogen, like a parasite or a virus or a bacteria, that is infecting the sea stars and that compromises in some way their immune system," Pete Raimondi, chair of the department of ecology and evolutionary biology, at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told AFP.

Then, the creatures become more susceptible to bacteria which is "causing a secondary infection that causes most of the damages that you see."

A barometer of sea health

The 2013 phenomenon has not been observed solely along the West Coast; a smaller outbreak also killed East Coast sea stars last year.

Previous cases were believed to be associated with warmer waters -- sea stars have sensitive skin and prefer cooler water -- but this was not the case in 2013.

And when the die-offs happened previously, the geographic span of the infections was much smaller, and far fewer sea stars were affected.

In 1983, an epidemic nearly wiped out the Pisaster ochraceus from tidal pools along the southern coast of California.

Another, smaller die-off in 1997 may have been caused by warmer waters in an El Nino year, scientists said.

Sea stars are important because "they play a key role in this ecosystem on the West Coast," Raimondi said.

Sea stars eat mussels, barnacles, snails, mollusks and other smaller sea life, so their health is
considered a measure of marine life on the whole in a given area.

When sea stars decline in number, "the mussel population has the potential to dramatically increase, which could significantly alter the rocky intertidal zone," according to Sleeman.

While sea stars make up an important component of the base of the ocean food chain and are considered a top predator, they are in turn eaten by other starfish, shorebirds, gulls, and sometimes sea otters.

In an effort to find out what is causing the mass deaths, scientists are collecting reports from the public, taking specimens to the lab for analysis and doing genetic sequencing to find out whether a toxin or an infection may be to blame.

Note how there is no mention of the radiation from Fukushima!