Saturday, February 15, 2014

My comments on the union vote at the Volkswagen Plant in Tennessee:

The workers in the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee voted on whether to establish a UAW-affiliated work council. The vote came in at 626 for and 712 against the union. This was an important vote for the UAW, because the majority of vehicles assembled in North America now come from "transplant" (non-union) factories. This was a rare occasion for the UAW to have a union vote at a plant where they were not fighting the manufacturer. In losing the vote, the UAW has to seriously re-evaluate its product.

Obviously, I'm pro-union, but looking at this as objectively as possible, the UAW really screwed up here. One of the key points that they tell you when you are learning to sell is that you have to "meet the customers' objections." In this case, the UAW didn't do that. The workers in Chattanooga told the UAW that they didn't like what had happened to the auto industry in Detroit. They thought it related to work rules put into place by the UAW. The UAW could have easily met that objective by putting work rules squarely in the hands of the local work council. The workers told the UAW that they didn't like dues going to liberal politicians. The Union could have left political donations to the discretion of the local work council. By botching its single best chance at organizing a southern auto plant, the UAW, not only demonstrated a tin ear to the workers' objections, it forfeited its single best chance to prove the naysayers wrong. I don't know what the UAW is going to do from here, but I think maybe they need to lower their dues and reorganize internally. It probably means there will be a headcount reduction within the UAW. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What does it take to get noticed in L.A.?

A Lamborghini? - no, not good enough.
A pet bear? - no,still not good enough.
A bear in a Lamborghini? - that'll do it.

Why a bear in a Lamborghini?
A. - Can you think of a better car protection system.
B. - Don't be stupid, you know you're not supposed to leave your DOG in the car.
C. - The bear wanted to go, and you know . . .

Source:jalopnik.com

Monday, September 02, 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013

What's Up

Some days I really like having a teenaged son. Otherwise how would I find out about quality entertainment like this.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Irrelevant Post of the Day
Florida Law Firm Pays New Associates $145k/year


I saw this post that the South Florida "big building law firm Greenberg Traurig has bumped its pay for new associates to $145,000/year. That's big bucks for a new lawyer; but on the other hand, if you went to an Ivy League quality school and similar law school, you could have $400,000 in student loan debt. They have to work a ridiculous number of hours, and the job sucks enough to make the pay fair.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Worse Job than Yours

If you (generically) ever feel like complaining about your job, somebody else has it worse. Check out this guy in Texas who worked for an auto dealership where his coworkers repeatedly (allegedly) tasered him just to laugh at his reaction. The owner of the business allegedly provided the taser and video'd the incidents. I think he's not going to own that business much longer.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

How to "Have it Your Way" at White Castle
FPS Russia makes a slider run in a M5 Stuart Tank


FPS Russia's Youtube channel is one of my guilty pleasures. I'm a peacenik, but I'd love to play with a tank for a day. Here's the vicarious thrill. (Yes, he does blow stuff up, and yes there is some language. After all, it is a FPS Russia video.)

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

The New Trend of Abusive Asset Forfeitures

There is a good article in the New Yorker called "Taken" by reporter Sarah Stillman. It cronicles the current abuses of civil forfeiture laws by federal and state prosecuting authorities across the country. By engaging in the legal fiction of suing your property, they effectively rob you of any workable due process rights. In the past year, I have had clients sued, technically their cars were sued, in Federal court alleging their cars were part of a title laundering scheme where over 200 cars were involved. The cars are being sued as proceeds of the criminal operation. Two things upset me about this suit. The first thing is that they are targeting the old cars of one of my not-well-off people when they should be targeting the "proceeds" my clients and the others paid the alleged wrongdoer. It's like blaming the victim for a crime. The second thing that bugs me is that I tried to alert authorities to flaws in the mechanics title statute 20 years ago. I even sued the state of Indiana for a client claiming the mechanics lien statute was unconstitutional. My suit claimed that the statute that provided for the state to issue a mechanic's lien title gave the owners and lienholders notice of claim but did not provide them an opportunity to contest the claim in a neutral forum before property deprivation. If they would have fixed the law, this suit wouldn't exist. Prior to filing suit, I contacted counsel at one or two major lenders and told them what I had found out about a scam to get around purchase money loans with bogus mechanic's liens, but the attorneys for the lenders couldn't be bothered. Now the U.S. attorney is coming down on poor people who are just looking for inexpensive transportation to get to work, and the beneficiaries of this action by the US Attorney will presumably be the big auto lenders. But they really won't be, because some of these lenders have filed appearances to avoid having their liens impaired in the secondary transactions where the current owners of the vehicles are the borrowers. I don't know what really the US attorney is expecting to accomplish. Many of these cars are at least 10 years old. I would be surprised if the average wholesale value at this point is over $1000-2000. It's going to cost that much to process the cars through the system. Still, a $1000 to $2000 car is important to someone with no money and no other way to work. The bottom line is that the US attorney should have gone after the alleged wrongdoer for the conspiracy to alter the titles, but suing over 200 automobiles was a big mistake. There are now up to 200 people filing pleadings in the case to protect their interests in their cars, most of which aren't worth more than a couple thousand dollars. The case will cost more in US Attorney's office and court personnel time than it will ever recover, and any recovery made will be at the expense of poor people,making them even poorer.

Friday, August 02, 2013

The Motorola Moto X, the Most Important Phone Since the (original) iPhone?
- Oh yes, it's made in the USA


In the past decade and a half, Motorola has slipped from being a leader in the cell-phone industry to a marginal player. The company was on its last legs when it was purchased by Google in 2011-2012. At the time, it appeared that Google just purchased Motorola for its patent portfolio, but now it appears there was a "secret project" to come out with a ground breaking new phone that would showcase many more Google ideas than the run-of-the-mill Android smartphones. Yesterday Motorola unveiled the first "Google phone", the Moto X. This phone has the potential to either be a bust or to blindside Apple and be the hottest thing since the original iPhone. At first blush, the Moto X doesn't look like anything special. It's smaller than average, so it doesn't have a screen that you'd be tempted to use as a tablet. It doesn't claim to have the fastest processor. What the Moto X tries to do is to first adapt to how you use your phone, but also enable behaviors that let you get more out of your phone. The Phone has specialized processors that allow the phone to always be on, but yet draw very little power. It is set up for instant voice commands, enabled whenever the user says "okay, Google now".

One of the biggest game changers is that Google's flagship phone is not designed for the upper-tier of the market; instead, it's designed for the middle. Prices have not been announced, but it appears that it will sell for much less than the current top line phones. The Moto X will have hundreds of customization options so your phone won't look just like your neighbor's. I saved the best part for last; the Moto X will be made in the United States, in a 20 year old plant that Motorola shut down years ago. This will be the first smartphone ever built in the US. It's also a thumb in the face of Apple, which said it couldn't be done. I think that I am likely to make the Moto X (or next year's model) my next smartphone - assuming it comes to Virgin Mobile. If you're in the market, it's worth a look. If I get one, I think I'll turn off the always-listening feature. I'd rather the NSA stay busy listening to other people.

For more details on the Moto X, check out this Wired.com article and this one from Gizmodo.

Monday, July 29, 2013

$18.6 Million FCRA Verdict!

Congratulations to my NACA colleagues, Mike and Justin Baxter. They were the plaintiff's lawyers in a Fair Credit Reporting Act case in which their client was awarded a jury verdict of $180,000 in actual damages and $18.6 million in punitive damages. Their client had tried unsuccessfully through many attempts to get Equifax to correct a mixed up credit report. Some of you might think $18.6 million is ridiculous. I agree that's a lot of money but what I think is really ridiculous is that for the 15 years that I've been involved in credit report cases, and no doubt for years before that, our small group of consumer attorneys have been pressing the consumer reporting agencies to adopt simple, common sense procedures to solve credit report errors, and they have continually refused. The result has been that 21% of Americans have errors on their credit reports, and 5% could be denied credit because of them. The credit reporting agencies have been hit in the pocket book before with verdicts in the single digit million, but they still figure that it's cheaper to risk the occasional verdict than do simple things like forward the proof of error the consumer sends in to the reporting creditor. Sometimes they don't even forward the complete text of the consumer's dispute. They "investigate" consumer disputes using contractors in low-wage countries, and give the person handling the dispute a staggering caseload. Hopefully this verdict will be the start of a process of improvement.