by Steven Hale
As workers at a Volkswagen plant in his hometown were beginning to vote Wednesday on whether to be represented by the United Auto Workers, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker promised big things to come if they vote the way he'd like.
If the Chattanooga workers reject the union, Corker said according to Reuters, they'd get to work on a new SUV from VW right there at the factory.
"I've had conversations today and based on those am assured that should the workers vote against the UAW," Corker said, "Volkswagen will announce in the coming weeks that it will manufacture its new mid-size SUV here in Chattanooga."
Well, that sure would be nice. Except that, as Reuters also reported: "In the past few weeks, Volkswagen officials have made several statements that the vote will have no bearing on whether the SUV will be made at the Chattanooga plant or at a plant in Puebla, Mexico."
But Corker was apparently still being "assured" by...someone. So, this morning, VW CEO Frank Fischer addressed the issue in a statement, also from Reuters:
"There is no connection between our Chattanooga employees' decision about whether to be represented by a union and the decision about where to build a new product for the U.S. market," said Frank Fischer, chairman and chief executive officer of Volkswagen Chattanooga.
Nevertheless, in a statement that's just hit our inboxes, Corker stands his ground.
"Believe me, the decisions regarding the Volkswagen expansion are not being made by anyone in management at the Chattanooga plant and we are also very aware Frank Fischer is having to use old talking points when he responds to press inquiries,” Corker says. “After all these years and my involvement with Volkswagen, I would not have made the statement I made yesterday without being confident it was true and factual."
In any case, Corker's attempt direct the outcome of the now-ongoing union vote wasn't the first such attempt by a Republican lawmaker to be swatted down by a guy who's supposedly making the real decisions.
Earlier this week, state GOP legislators were suggesting other consequences might follow a vote to unionize — state incentives are pretty nice, sure would be a shame if anything were to happen to them.
And yet, on Wednesday, State Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty told The Associated Press that the state "has never said to Volkswagen that we would not incentivize their deal if they were union or not union."