Tag Archives: businesses

Judge orders mediation in Pilot Flying J lawsuit

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered mediation in a lawsuit targeting the truck-stop chain owned by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

The suit claims Knoxville-based Pilot Flying J fraudulently withheld fuel rebates and discounts from customers. Pilot earlier settled similar claims in a class-action lawsuit for $85 million. A few companies opted out of that settlement.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/1uKOqe1) that some plaintiffs’ attorneys this week objected to the ordered mediation. They said they need to take discovery first to determine what was stolen from their clients.

A Pilot attorney disagreed, saying an audit provided by the company gives an “absolutely full picture” of the damages.

Pilot also recently agreed to pay a $92 million penalty to avoid criminal charges against the company.

Businesses coming to TN for low wages as well as incentives?

The low wage levels in Memphis are a big draw for new industry, reports the Commercial Appeal – citing some interesting statistics.

When Electrolux won more than $180 million in government incentives two years ago to create an oven factory and 1,200 jobs in Memphis, the wages that workers would earn were a back-burner issue.

In fact, the Swedish appliance maker officially told Memphis and Shelby County officials approving a property tax break only that jobs at the plant would pay an average of $14.65 an hour, not including benefits.

However, employees say that inexperienced new hires start at less than $12 an hour.
While those aren’t the solid middle-class wages that lifted factory workers a generation ago, lower labor costs turn out to be a big asset for Memphis as manufacturers look to return jobs to American shores.

Cost cutting, and not creating jobs with middle-class wages for low-skilled workers, is key as manufacturers seek to be competitive with their counterparts in China and elsewhere, said John Boyd, principal of The Boyd Co., corporate site selection consulting firm in Princeton, N.J.

“It’s a horrible reality that I think we’re all coming to grips with, but this notion of middle-class manufacturing jobs, I’d love to get back to that place again,” Boyd said.
“You look around and we live in a different world today and corporations, sadly, are very ruthless and cost cutting is paramount to survive in this global economy.”

At $14.65 an hour, a 40-hour week at Electrolux would pay $586. That’s far below the $1,559 average for the manufacturing industry in Shelby County for 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But averages can be deceiving, especially with Memphis’ a wide variety of skills and industries in the mix. Nearly 850 plants have about 44,100 jobs filled.

In fact, for production workers in the Memphis area, the average entry level wage in 2013 was $9.10, according to state occupational wage statistics. For experienced workers, that rose to $18.55.

It’s the prospect of tapping a lower-wage workforce that helps make Memphis one of the most attractive areas in the United States and Canada for manufacturers seeking plant sites, said a consultant with broad experience helping companies make those decisions.

‘Tax Porn, Not Corn’ Draws Opposition, Suggestions

Statement distributed to media and legislators by Tracy A. O’Neill, lobbyist for adult entertainment establishments, opposing bill known as “tax porn, not corn:”
The Honorable Representative Joe Carr, hopes to save marriages and food taxes in Tennessee with his introduction of HB3081, a 25% tax on adult oriented materials, including cable television programming, pay-per-view adult films in Hotels and Motels, adult retailers, professional entertainers and cabarets.
How does a tax on adult entertainment save marriages? While this is a noble cause, one for which the Representative should be commended, why not introduce legislation that would impose mandatory marriage counseling for troubled or divorcing couples and charge them a fee? Or better yet, offer each troubled couple a few of the ‘naughty’ items Representative Carr hopes to tax, as an educational and entertaining way to spice up a potentially disintegrating marriage.
One legislature, Texas, enacted adult entertainment tax legislation, which cost over $2 million to the state and is still ongoing. The case was recently remanded back to its starting point to address a myriad of issues the original judge never ruled upon after finding the tax unconstitutional. In the past, most Federal Courts have consistently struck down arbitrary and selective taxes as unconstitutional, especially if, in the Representative’s own words, such businesses simply “…can’t be shut down.” His is a costly proposition for Tennessee taxpayers, who will ultimately bear the debt for both enforcement and a legal challenge.
To unequally apply a tax to an entertainer or venue based strictly on its content or with bias against the nature of the business opens a Pandora’s box of rampant taxation. For example, if Representative Carr’s tax is an attempt to save marriages, why exclude the millions of dollars in revenues for items such as lingerie, male enhancement pharmaceuticals and supplements (IE: Viagra and Extenze), over the counter sexual aids, Condoms, Lubricants, as well as box office motion pictures and hit television shows that could easily be considered ‘Adult Entertainment’ due to preamble warnings of high sexual content or graphic images? And will you equally apply the tax to include numerous Broadway plays containing nudity or sexual imagery that make their way to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center?
Court Decisions have been clear that you cannot enact a tax based solely on the content of speech. HB3081 imposes a tax based on the content of adult oriented businesses. Additionally, the excessive and arbitrary tax, being dubiously and speciously applied to save marriages, is unfairly levied on legal venues with a specific designation of “Adult Entertainment,” and not equally applied to all forms of entertainment such as male entertainers, sporting events or concerts. By singling out one sector of entertainment, you are in fact, setting the stage for the state to pillage and plunder its people.
There are currently several pieces of legislation moving throughout the respective committees set to reduce the sales tax of food that make better sense economically. I urge you to vote NO on HB3081 by Rep. Carr.

The Return of ‘Tax Porn, Not Corn’

A state lawmaker from Rutherford County has proposed a tax that could increase state revenue by $55 million, reports WTVF-TV. Representative Joe Carr of Lascassas said taxing adult businesses, and the products they sell, is a way to help all Tennesseans.
“If we can’t outlaw it, and the Supreme Court says we cannot, then what we’ll do is put a 25% tax on adult material, hard core pornography,” Representative Carr said.
Carr claims his proposal is about more than just money. He said his real concern is about saving marriages. He said that Tennessee has one of the highest divorce rates and he’s hoping his proposal will change that.
According to the bill he filed, the adult entertainment industry generates nearly $222 million a year in Tennessee.
A 25 % sales tax would be applied to adult movies, books or admission to any adult entertainment venue. It would also apply to escort services and cabarets.
(Note: The bill is HB3081, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville. Revenue from the new tax would be used to reduce the sales tax on food. It’s similar to Campfield’s “tax porn, not corn” proposal back in 2009. Story from then, HERE).
Update: See also, Sen. Campfield’s blog post on the subject, entitled “It’s a Sexy Bill.’