I have never written to a car company CEO before--not even one from the United States, let alone a German one--so please excuse me if it seems a little presumptuous that I should even be doing this, Herr Winterkorn.
However, I feel like I have established some small cred with your company as I have owned four Volkswagens over the years. Four! And except for one of them, they were all damn fine automobiles. Especially the Rabbit. Why you guys ever quit producing the Rabbit is beyond me. But that's not why I'm writing.
The deal is, I am taking this liberty with your time because of that failed vote to go union in that plant down in Chattanooga. I'm sure you know the one I'm talking about. You didn't get to be CEO of the third biggest car company in the world by ignoring things like that, did you? And let me tell you something... that whole episode increased my respect for your company by maybe 1,000 percent. Which means I now have an uber-boatload of respect for VW because I already had a lot of respect in the first place, owing to the great experiences I had owning those four Volkswagens.
Uh, three Volkswagens, if you don't count the one that it wasn't such a great experience to own. But that's not why I'm writing, either.
I'm writing to ask you to consider closing down that plant in Chattanooga and moving it to a state that's not run by anti-union creeps who couldn't give a crap what happens to their common working men and women. As you know, I'm sure, the politicians of Tennessee--especially that asshole Sen. Bob Corker--just about pissed themselves at the prospect of organized labor getting a foothold in their cruddy hillbilly state at that Chattanooga plant, which would have made it, as I understand, the first unionized car company plant anywhere in the South.
Corker started lying out of both ends at once about unions and union bosses and what a horrible, horrible thing it would be to have Tennessee working people getting a say in their own fates. They claimed the UAW killed Detroit, totally ignoring the realities that not only did Detroit decline in direct proportion to declining union membership in that area, but that GM and Ford spent a good three decades making crappy cars nobody wanted to buy.
Corker even claimed that if those workers voted union, your fine company would abandon its plans for production of a new model VW in that plant, which turned out to be the biggest lie of all.
You have to wonder why the South is so anti-union, don't you? Personally, I suspect there are way too many cracker bastards down there who believe it's a businessman's divine right to pay his workers whatever he goddamn wants, and that it's the workers' obligation to shut the hell up about it. After all, isn't that the nature of the institution which defined Dixie for at least 200 years? I mean, prior to Abe Lincoln saying to them, "You cracker bastards can't do that anymore." You know the institution I'm talking about, I'm sure.
Well, I'm not convinced that attitude ever went entirely away. If you ask me, they still have too many fond memories of that good ol' antebellum employer/employee relationship. I mean, the relationship where if the worker does whatever the boss says, his compensation is not getting whipped.
And look, I'm not saying everyone from Tennessee is a lying asshole like Corker. The truth is, my dad was a Tennessee guy. He left there when he was 19. Came to Idaho and--guess what?--joined a union, that's what. He knew what great things collective bargaining and union solidarity are, and he worked for them all of his life. And from what I hear, Volkswagen has no problems with unions. Is what I've heard right?... that the only non-union plants you operate are that one in Chattanooga and two in Red China?
Anyway, I also heard VW has plans to put $7 billion into new U.S. development over the next five years, but after that vote in Chattanooga, there is now a reluctance to put any new plants anywhere in the South. Which is great. Except, that leaves the old plant in Chattanooga. And if you really support organized labor as you say you do--and as your record shows you do--I think it would be totally appropriate for you to move that whole operation--lock, stock and Beetle--to a place that would welcome not only the plant, but the 1,200-or-so union workers who came with it.
One thing, I don't recommend coming to Idaho. Seriously, we may well be the best example of what happens when that "Right To Work," union-busting crud comes to stay. We rank 50th (out of 50) for average wage and per-capita income, and we rank No. 1 for the percentage of employees working for minimum wage. We may well be even worse than the South for working people. And the damnedest thing of all is, in election after election, we keep electing the same Republican dips who got us here. Isn't that amazing?
Makes a fella wonder if there's even enough Idaho people smart enough to work a plant like yours that turns out such fine automobiles. I'd recommend California. Maybe Washington or Oregon. They still have respect for working people in those states. Illinois, maybe. Or the Northeast, somewhere. Even Detroit. They could use a union boost in Detroit. Just not any place south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Or Idaho.
And say, why don't you talk to all those other foreign car guys. Mitsubishi and Toyota and Honda. It sounds like they might be ready for some good union labor, too.
Danke shoen--A proud son of a proud union man.