Money Minute: VW Workers Weigh UAW Vote; HTC Heats Up Smartphone War

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This could turn out to be one of the most important weeks in a long, long time for the labor movement in the U.S.

Workers at Volkswagen's plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., will vote beginning Wednesday on whether to join the United Auto Workers union. But unlike other efforts to unionize at auto plants in Southern states, the company is endorsing the UAW effort. Volkswagen (VLKAY) successfully operates worker councils in Germany, and it wants the same thing here. Still, it's not a slam dunk, and a defeat would be a major setback to the union movement, and probably represent a nail in the coffin of organizing in any of the plants throughout the region.

Meanwhile, auto production in Australia is coming to a screeching halt.
Toyota (TM) is the latest to say it will end production Down Under. This follows similar moves by Ford (F) and General Motors (GM), all because of high production costs.

The latest volley in the smartphone war comes from the Taiwanese manufacturer HTC. The company, which had mostly made higher-end phones up until now, says it will soon launch a new model in the $150 to $200 range. Not that long ago, HTC was the leading seller of smartphones in the U.S., but it's been battered by fierce competition from Samsung, Apple (AAPL) and Google's (GOOG) Motorola Mobility line.

Meanwhile, the cost of mobile service plans could continue to drop. Internet-based service provider FreedomPop is offering an unlimited voice and data plan for less than $5 a month, far below the average price of about $85 a month. And USAToday reports the industry big boys -- Verizon (VZ), AT&T (T), T-Mobile US (TMUS) and Sprint (S) -- could be forced lower their prices.

Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) are riding their first three-day winning streak this year after gaining 7 points Monday. The Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 22 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) added nearly 3 points.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.


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11 Comments

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toosmart4u

The employees at VW would be smart to vote in the union. The republicans just want to cut off money to the democrats. They could care less about the workers. After all, it is a right to work state and if an employee does not want to join the union he does not have to, so what is the fuss all about??????

February 11 2014 at 4:34 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
toosmart4u

And the Australian government is conservative. See the conservatives cannot functional properly, bush jr. showed us that.

February 11 2014 at 4:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
richard

Volkswagon workers will be served well by the UAW, and they won`t regret being unionized. And credit the German company willing to work with the UAW. When a worker has pride in the company he/she works for, it benefits the company. Plus the UAW represented Volkswagon workers will have some pride in knowing that the union they pay dues to, is improving their standard of living. Maybe some of the lower paid temp workers at the Japanese owned transplants will then want to contribute to the fight for the middle class. And join the UAW, instead of riding on the coattails of the UAW members at American automakers who actually pay union dues to keep the middle-class dream alive.

February 11 2014 at 2:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tjstieg

\"Volkswagen successfully runs workers organizations in Europe\"--does that mean they think they can successfully run the UAW?--even to a small degree? What a radical change to the UAW that would be.

February 11 2014 at 12:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bill Graham

I support anything that birings the working conditions and wages up to levels of a honest living wage. It is too bad that businesses can't seem to be trusted to provide for workers well being anymore. What happened to the days when companies gave cola raises and merritt raises automatically? We can't continue to see wages not keeping pace with the true cost of living so shareholder profits can keep setting new records. Our system is broken whern corporations like McDonalds and Walmarts post record profits and tell workeers to apply for goverment aid programs to help get by. I agree that unions sometimes in the past were just like corporations today in taking advantage of the other side but we need a middle ground. Jobs are important, but I think everyone will agree a job that does not provide a living wage is worse that no job at all. That type of economy is why the gap between the rich and the middle class is getting wider every year, and is leading to the two class society of the rich and the poor. Time to reverse the snowball effect of corporate profits and the rich getting richer while the working class must depend on government programs to survive or be forced to do without health care and working two jobs to try to put food on the table.

February 11 2014 at 11:39 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Bill Graham's comment
cdr1174

Hey billy thanks for sharing your total ignorance on the subject. Tell us all billy since was flipping burgers at McDonald's ever considered a career? Tell us billy, since when did high school guidance counselors started promoting Walmart cashier as a bona fide career? Are you even aware in the mush filled noggin you have that those jobs are secondary income sources? Seriously get a life

February 11 2014 at 12:03 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
wfreeberg

Nobody should have to stay at a job that does not pay what the person believes he or she is worth. If you are unsatisfied, get another job. Not qualified for a higher paying job, then get qualified. Everyone wants higher pay but few are interested in working for it. That might be why we have a 20% high school drop out rate in the USA while other countries have kids that are interested in and excel in education.

February 11 2014 at 2:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to wfreeberg's comment
Bill Graham

Almost all of theose other countries pay for the education so kids can excel rathr than drop out because they can't earn enough to pay the tuition costs of our education system. I have a much higher paying job, I earm a 6 figure income, but it happened because I worked for people more interested in the welfare of the employee's than the feelings of money grubbing stock holders who today never seem to be satisfied! How much is enough for the rich? What do they plan to leave for the real working people of this country besides struggle?

February 11 2014 at 9:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
Iselin007

Unfair trade upset the balance that's why the middle class is declining . VW is the peoples car that would be the 99%.

February 11 2014 at 11:34 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Robert

Watch out VW.
Look at what a good job the unions have done in Detroit.
Then run, don't walk from the table

February 11 2014 at 10:43 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Robert's comment
Iselin007

So what happened to the rest of the middle class that weren\'t in a union?

February 11 2014 at 11:47 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Bill Graham

if the table was level and some places werent promoting cheap labor then no one would be leaving Detroit and other places, but the lure ofr "cheap" labor will attract coprorate America to any place politicians can offer programs to keep labor costs at poverty wages.

February 11 2014 at 12:00 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Bill Graham's comment
cdr1174

But billy bob things are not level and never will be. Furthermore billy bob, many countries like India or china require an amount of local sourced production in order to sell the product in their country. You're simple man view is pathetic

February 11 2014 at 12:11 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down
vinceautopart

I used to work for a car manufacturer in Detroit and this sounds like the beginning of the end of a VW plant in the US. The union greed was one of the nails in the coffin that sent our jobs overseas. They kept saying for us not to worry, we had them where we wanted them and what else would the company do. Well, that strategy didn't work.

February 11 2014 at 10:37 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to vinceautopart's comment
Bill Graham

It didn't work because the bought our politicians so the could ship jobs overseas use cheap labor and bring products back here to sell with no tax penality but rather tax breaks. Japan and South Korea don't allow our products to take jobs from thier people! They protect the middle class, I worked for several years for a South Korean company and in 1999 the average wages for a manufacturing worker in South Korea was $44,000 US a year. So if they can do it so can American Corporations, but Korean CEO's average making 10 times a workers wages many USA CEO's make 500- 600 times a workers wages, that is the problem with the US economy.

February 11 2014 at 12:06 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Bill Graham's comment
cdr1174

Billy bob still spewing bull

February 11 2014 at 12:12 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down
CEIL AND DON

I only buy union made cars. Hope workers at VW plant in Tennesse vote for the UAW.

February 11 2014 at 9:19 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply