Tennessee Republicans, who control a two-thirds supermajority in the state legislature and essentially govern alone, have warned Volkswagen that if the United Auto Workers (UAW) win an election this week to represent VW’s new plant in Chattanooga, the company cannot expect to receive any future state-funded economic incentives. According to Hollie Webb of the Chattanoogan, the message delivered by State Senator Bo Watson on Monday was also aimed indirectly at the VW workers who will be voting Wednesday through Friday.
There is already an effort by some VW workers to oppose the union. Their website, no2uaw.com, alleges that the UAW has already broken promises it made to workers that it would fight for higher wages and bonuses for the company. Other workers are looking skeptically at the union’s controversial past record in the auto industry. “Anything they have been involved with has had problems….We are a great company. I just don’t feel we need this,” the Wall Street Journal‘s Neal Boudette quoted one assembly line worker as saying.
Democrats responded to the Republicans’ threat on Monday by holding a press conference to “speak out in favor of allowing workers to exercise their rights without fear of retribution or outside influence.” They alleged that the GOP is attempting to interfere in the workers’ decision. Notably, the UAW is reported to have campaigned against the Volkswagen plant when it was first proposed in Tennessee, apparently concerned that the new plant would be yet another non-union shop outside the UAW’s traditional power base in the Midwest.
Photo: AP/Erik Schelzig