Corker Weighs in Against Union at Volkswagen

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker on Friday said top Volkswagen leaders aren’t pushing United Auto Workers’ efforts in Chattanooga and he contended there’s no link between plant expansion and setting up a factory works council.
Further from the Chattanooga TFP:
A UAW official said VW employees won’t be “intimidated by outside forces,” and that the German automaker has “an outstanding track record” of working with organized labor globally.
The two sides weighed into the VW issue as a Washington, D.C., group Friday officially launched a summerlong “education campaign” about the UAW and its efforts to organize the VW plant.
Corker, a Tennessee Republican who helped negotiate the incentives package to bring Volkswagen to Chattanooga, said he has talked to VW leaders numerous times and “there’s not a push by the executive leadership or the board toward the UAW.”
“I know for a fact that at the highest levels of VW, they’re aware that if the UAW became involved in the plant, it would be a negative for the future economic growth of our state,” he said.
However, Gary Casteel, a UAW regional director in Lebanon, Tenn., said the auto companies and their employees represented by the union are prospering.
The Spring Hill, Tenn., plant run by General Motors has been resurrected and now has 2,000 workers, he said. Ford Motor Co. employees at a plant in his region last year received $8,000 profit-sharing bonuses and could receive $10,000 each this year, Casteel said.
Chrysler, meanwhile, is recording the fastest-growing market share among automakers, he said.
“We’re doing fine,” Casteel said.
Still, Corker said the possibility that the UAW could represent workers at the VW plant has affected recruitment of other businesses to Tennessee.
“It has already created some obstacles to us,” he said. “I think the leadership at the [Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce] believes that if the UAW established a stronghold in our area, it would be a negative,” he said.
The former Chattanooga mayor termed “totally and absolutely false” a claim last week by a top German VW works council official that it would block the possibility of Chattanooga landing new production until the issue of a works council is clear at the plant.

Leave a Reply