Jun 14, 2019

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Sneak peek: Check out a preview clip from my "Axios on HBO" interview with 2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg about the political debate over veterans. Don't miss the full interview this Sunday on HBO at 6pm ET/PT.

Today's PM is 509 words, a 2 minute read.

1 big thing: The union fight down south

Photo: Erik Schelzig/AP

Today concludes a historic vote in Tennessee, where autoworkers are determining whether to make the Chattanooga VW plant the first foreign-owned auto plant in the South to be unionized.

Why it matters: If the [United Auto Workers union] prevails in unionizing the plant, it will be a historic win for a labor organization that has spent decades trying to build influence outside of Detroit and represent more factory workers across the car-manufacturing sector," the WSJ reports.

  • "The union’s membership, which hit a peak of 1.5 million workers in 1979, has fallen to about 400,000 last year."
  • "While the foreign-car companies build millions of vehicles each year in the U.S., none of their assembly plants are unionized."

Be smart: This story line has been running for two decades, Axios' Joann Muller emailed.

  • "I’ve written that southern toehold headline for 15 or 20 years. Usually politicians have their thumb on the scale. Last time at VW, it was [then-Sen. Bob Corker]. He’s gone now, but I still would be surprised if this unionization vote passes."

The bottom line: "[T]he major manufacturing operations of [Toyota] and [Nissan] lie further south in states like Alabama and Mississippi that lack Tennessee’s history of partial unionization," Reuters notes.

  • Via Reuters: "[A] win in the Deep South is not in the cards," per Cox Automotive analyst Michelle Krebs.
2. What you missed
  1. The first Democratic debate lineup: Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris headline one group; Elizabeth Warren and Beto O'Rourke lead the other. Go deeper.
  2. U.S. donors have given 90% of the cash behind the first $4.1 million restoration payment for Notre Dame cathedral. Details.
  3. More than 600 U.S. companies and industry trade associations wrote to Trump and his team, urging them to relent on the trade battle with China. See the letter.
  4. "Naomi Wolf's U.S. publisher is postponing the release of her new book, 'Outrages,' after a BBC interviewer challenged some of her findings. Wolf is openly objecting to the delay." [AP]
3. 1 film thing

Despite a fresh cast, “Men in Black International” goes over the top and under expectations, writes Flipboard’s Mia Quagliarello.

The scene: The 4th MIB film cranks up the special effects, blasters, and locales. Gone are Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, replaced by rookie agent Tessa Thompson (Agent M) and veteran Chris Hemsworth (Agent H).

Between the lines: Thompson and Hemsworth proved their chemistry during “Thor: Ragnarok,” but critics say it’s not enough to save MiB International's shallow characters, weak script, and dulling of edges that made the original so good.

The bottom line: That the org is still called "Men in Black," even with female agents, gets a nod from Emma Thompson (Agent O), the only carryover from previous films.

  • “I say ‘Men in Black?’ because I’m confused that that is the title of the organization, and [Agent O] goes, ‘I know, I’ve had the conversation, it’s taking time.’"—Tessa Thompson
  • This kind of subversive rapport between the two women is "by far the most intriguing part of MIB: International, even if director F. Gary Gray doesn’t linger on it for very long," says Vox.
Mike Allen