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After UAW defeat, can GOP fulfill promise of jobs?

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Republicans fighting a yearslong unionization effort at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee painted a grim picture in the days leading up to last week's vote. They said if Chattanooga employees joined the United Auto Workers, jobs would go elsewhere and incentives for the company would disappear.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 February 2014

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Pa. Craigslist killing suspect claims 22 others

SUNBURY, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania woman charged with her newlywed husband with killing a man they met through Craigslist admitted to the slaying in a jailhouse interview with a newspaper and said she has killed more than 20 other people across the country, claims police said they are investigating.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 February 2014

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A western wrinkle on eminent domain

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (AP) — The view from the deck of the small, century-old cabin was a dream come true for Andy and Ceil Barrie -- a sweeping panorama of 13,000 and 14,000-foot peaks towering above the forest of centuries-old bristlecone pines.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 February 2014

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Snake-handling Ky. pastor dies from snake bite

MIDDLESBORO, Ky. (AP) — A snake-handling pastor who appeared on the National Geographic television reality show "Snake Salvation" has died after being bitten by a snake during a weekend church service in Kentucky.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 February 2014

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Ethiopian plane hijacked to Geneva by co-pilot

GENEVA (AP) — An Ethiopian Airlines co-pilot hijacked a plane bound for Rome on Monday and flew it to Geneva, where he wanted to seek asylum, officials said.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 February 2014

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Volkswagen workers reject UAW in Tenn

 

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Just 87 votes at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee separated the United Auto Workers union from what would have been its first successful organization of workers at a foreign automaker in the South.

Instead of celebrating a potential watershed moment for labor politics in the region, UAW supporters were left crestfallen by the 712-626 vote against union representation in the election that ended Friday night.

The result stunned many labor experts who expected a UAW win because Volkswagen tacitly endorsed the union and even allowed organizers into the Chattanooga factory to make sales pitches.

The loss is a major setback for the UAW's effort to make inroads in the growing South, where foreign automakers have 14 assembly plants, eight built in the past decade, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor and industry group at the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank in Michigan.

"If this was going to work anywhere, this is where it was going to work," she said of the Volkswagen vote.

Organizing a Southern plant is so crucial to the union that UAW President Bob King told workers in a speech that the union has no long-term future without it. The loss means the union remains largely quarantined with the Detroit Three in the Midwest and Northeast.

Many viewed VW as the union's best chance to gain a crucial foothold in the South because other automakers have not been as welcoming as Volkswagen. Labor interests make up half of the supervisory board at VW in Germany, and they questioned why the Chattanooga plant is the company's only major factory worldwide without formal worker representation.

VW wanted a German-style "works council" in Chattanooga to give employees a say over working conditions. The company says U.S. law won't allow it without an independent union.

In Chattanooga, the union faced stern opposition from Republican politicians who warned that a UAW victory would chase away other automakers who might come to the region.

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee was the most vocal opponent, saying that he was told that VW would soon announce plans to build a new SUV in Chattanooga if workers rejected the union. That was later denied by a VW executive, who said the union vote had no bearing on expansion decisions. Other state politicians threatened to cut off state incentives for the plant to expand if the union was approved.

After 53 percent of the workers voted against his union, King said he was outraged at what he called "outside interference" in the election. He wouldn't rule out challenging the outcome with the National Labor Relations Board.

"It's never happened in this country before that the U.S. senator, the governor, the leader of the House, the legislature here, threatened the company with no incentives, threatened workers with a loss of product," King said. "We'll look at all our options in the next few days."

The union could contend that Corker and other local politicians were in collusion with VW and tried to frighten workers into thinking the SUV would be built in Mexico if they voted for the union, said Gary Chaison, a labor relations professor at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.

But Chaison said it will be difficult to tie the politicians to the company, which remained neutral throughout the voting process.

"It's the employer that has real power," he said.

The loss put a spotlight on the union's major difficulty in the South: signing up people who have no history with organized labor and are fearful of being the first in the area to join, Chaison said.

Dziczek said the union may have to change its tactics in future organizing efforts, because King's strategy of the union and company working together to help each other did not work.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said through a spokesman that he was pleased with the vote and "looks forward to working with the company on future growth in Tennessee."

Corker echoed that sentiment in a release issued after the vote.

"Needless to say, I am thrilled for the employees at Volkswagen and for our community and its future," he said.

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 February 2014

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Utah man found guilty of teen babysitter's murder

OGDEN, Utah (AP) — It took a Utah jury just two hours to find a man guilty of killing a teenage baby sitter and dumping her body in the woods after prosecutors say he gave her a lethal dose of drugs during a night of sex that also included the man's wife.

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 February 2014

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Federal guidance on pot business leaves banks wary

SEATTLE (AP) — For marijuana dispensaries around the country, the days of doing business in cash — driving around with bill-stuffed envelopes to pay the rent, or showing up at a state revenue office with $20,000 in paper bags for the tax man — can't end soon enough.

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 February 2014

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