Sen. Corker ups ante in VW workers vote - WKRN News 2

Sen. Corker ups ante in VW workers vote

Posted: Updated: Feb 12, 2014 06:31 PM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

Volkswagen workers began voting Wednesday on organizing with the United Auto Workers (UAW) amidst union fears that go right to the top of Tennessee politics, but late Wednesday U.S. Sen. Bob Corker says a "no" vote means the plant will expand to make another vehicle.

His office released a statement from the senator that said, "I've had conversations today and based on those am assured that should the workers vote against the UAW, Volkswagen will announce in the coming weeks that it will manufacture its new mid-size SUV here in Chattanooga."

On Tuesday, Tennessee's House Speaker told News 2 VW's nearly half-billion dollars in state incentives with the promise of 3,500 jobs for its Chattanooga plant might not have received lawmakers 2009 approval if they thought the company would eventually unionize.

"You have a legislature that I don't know would have offered that high of an incentive package had we know they were going to unionize, this is huge for our state," Speaker Harwell said after addressing a gathering of small business owners on Tuesday.

The Republican speaker was asked if lawmaker's questioned VW's potential unionization when the state struck the incentive deal during the previous administration of Democrat Phil Bredesen.

She replied, "Not to my knowledge."

U.S. Senator Bob Corker, who helped recruit VW to Chattanooga after serving as mayor there, even flew to Tennessee on Tuesday to clarify his position on the union vote.

"I have talked to the governor non-stop and I talked with him [Monday] and the reason we are so concerned is that we know are we know the impact these discussions are already having on attracting companies, not just to Chattanooga, but to Tennessee, its real," said Sen. Corker before a gathering of reporters.

State democrats though question that reality.

In a statement Wednesday, House Democratic Caucus chair Mike Turner told News 2, "The governor and Sen. Corker have not pointed to a single solitary company that said they won't move to Tennessee if the UAW represents VW workers. These intimidation tactics are beneath the dignity of their offices."

In a news conference Monday, well-known Nashville labor attorney George Barrett countered that some of Tennessee's best known business recruits have been union companies.

General Motors came here with the UAW and Bridgestone came here with the rubber workers," said Barrett.

Chattanooga Republican State Senator Bo Watson countered with words of future shock for VW if its workers decide to unionize.

In news conference this week he said,"Should the workers at Volkswagen choose to be represented by the United Auto Workers, then I believe any additional incentives from the citizens of the State of Tennessee for expansion or otherwise will have a very tough time passing the Tennessee Senate."

It's clear we will know more about the state attracting new companies once the VW union vote is decided.

Results of the UAW vote are expected Friday night.

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