GABE NELSON

UAW vote at VW: not the top story in Chattanooga?

Gabe Nelson is a reporter for Automotive News and is based in Washington, D.C.Gabe Nelson is a reporter for Automotive News and is based in Washington, D.C.
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CHATTANOOGA -- Reporters have descended on Chattanooga from all over the country to see the result of the UAW vote that concludes today. But here in town, the election at Volkswagen AG's plant may not even be the most closely watched vote.

Last night, at least two of Chattanooga's nightly newscasts led off with news about a campaign to recall Councilman Chris Anderson -- the city's first openly gay councilman. Some community leaders say they do not like how Anderson is representing them, but he says the campaign is spearheaded by conservatives who do not like that he supported Chattanooga's domestic partnership ordinance for city employees.

On Thursday the Hamilton County Election Commission gave Anderson's critics the go-ahead to collect signatures to remove him from office. They want to put a vote on the ballot this summer.

Both of the newscasts, on the local ABC and CBS affiliates, gave the latest news on the UAW vote. It came later in the newscast, with less detail. And the front page of the Chattanooga Times Free Press today includes the Anderson story -- but nothing about the UAW vote.

It just goes to show: national politicians and media organizations see the UAW election as a huge moment for the auto industry, and for organized labor. It may be.

But here in Chattanooga, it is not some seismic event. And just as Chattanooga is roiled over labor, it is also roiled over other flashpoints of political opposition between liberals and conservatives, like gay marriage.

Unions aren't the only culture war there is to fight.

You can reach Gabe Nelson at gnelson@crain.com.

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