- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Anti-union groups worries of VW recognition of UAW

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - An anti-union group on Monday raised concerns that Volkswagen could move to recognize the United Auto Workers at its Tennessee plant without a vote.

The Center for Worker Freedom said in a release that it would be a “betrayal” of the workers at the Chattanooga plant to recognize the UAW even though they voted 712-626 against the union in February.

The National Labor Relations Board is scheduled to hold an April 21 hearing on the UAW’s challenge of the union vote on allegations that Republican politicians interfered with a fair outcome.

“If the company lets the union walk in anyway, it will have made clear its contempt not only for its workers and the state of Tennessee, but the democratic principle itself,” Matt Patterson, the group’s executive director, said in the release.

A Volkswagen spokesman did not return a message seeking comment. Gary Casteel, a regional director for the UAW, said he would not respond to “idle speculation by anti-union groups.”

“The UAW has a good relationship with Volkswagen and its works council leadership. Volkswagen operates with a high level of integrity and has deep respect for workers’ rights,” Casteel said in an email.

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Mystery surrounds death of Tenn. twins in home

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - Strange, sad and macabre, the discovery of the skeletal remains of twin brothers Andrew and Anthony Johnson has mystified neighbors and others in Chattanooga and beyond. Each man was found seated in an easy chair inside the modest home they shared for decades, and where they apparently died together about three years ago, with no obvious signs of foul play.

Even while they were alive, though, the 63-year-old twins were something of a mystery to their neighbors, who occasionally saw them wearing surgical masks while gardening but never saw them with visitors.

“I didn’t even know their names,” said retiree Linda Maffett, who lived across the street.

In an interview about the Johnsons she added, “It’s a strange story, it’s a sad story. I think it’s sad that they were sitting there that long with nobody checking on them.”

Police went to the home March 29 after being asked to check on the brothers by a relative who had a key. Officers found the twins’ decomposing bodies sitting in recliners in the living room. Their conditions suggested that both men had been dead since 2011.

An autopsy helped confirm their identities, but preliminary results revealed no obvious signs of trauma or foul play, Chattanooga police spokesman Tim McFarland said. He said there was some flesh on the brothers’ skeletal remains. The Hamilton County medical examiner is working on toxicology tests. In the meantime, McFarland said police are not speculating on a cause of death.

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Comptroller: Former official stole almost $100,000

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - State officials say an investigation has revealed that it took a little more than a year for the city recorder of Collinwood, Tenn., to steal almost $100,000 in public funds.

The state Comptroller’s office said Monday that Melissa Broome stole at least $94,000 from the city, located near the Scenic Natchez Trace Parkway, by taking money from utility payments, swimming pool fees and property taxes collected for the government

Broome has been charged with one count of theft over $60,000. Public records do not list a number for Broome. A Wayne County Circuit Court clerk said records do not indicate that she has an attorney.

Officials with the Comptroller’s office say the city made it easier for her to steal the money because good bookkeeping practices were not in place.

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Former postal workers admit to lying for benefits

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Federal officials say two former U.S. Postal workers from Maryville have admitted to lying to collect government benefits by falsely claiming that one of the pair was so injured she couldn’t work.

Federal Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Knoxville say the couple was caught after video captured the two taking a cruise, waking for hours at a time at different ports, followed by a trip to Disneyland.

Officials say that on Friday 61-year-old Carol J. Pazder pleaded guilty to making false statements to obtain federal employee benefits. Her husband, 67-year Richard Pazder, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting in the false statements.

Prosecutors say both claimed that Carol Pazder was so injured she could only walk, stand or sit for a few minutes.

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