TN lawmakers weigh in UAW vote at Volkswagen Chattanooga
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
Workers at Chattanooga's Volkswagen plant will be voting this week on if they want union representation and a battle is brewing between Tennessee lawmakers. Both sides of the aisle are weighing in on the future of the plant.
Republican and Democratic state representatives held separate news conferences Monday. Republican lawmakers say future incentives for Volkswagen could be in jeopardy. Their democratic counterparts say that is not true.
"Anything that could have a negative effect on Volkswagen is important to all citizens in Tennessee," says Republican Senator Bo Watson, who represents the 11th District.
Senator Watson and House majority leader Gerald McCormick are encouraging VW workers to vote no on the UAW.
"You have good wages and benefits and all this happened without the heavy hand of the United Auto Workers on you. I urge you to keep your voice and vote no," says Rep. McCormick of District 26.
They argue unionization would drive away suppliers. Watson also says after tax payers invested half a billion dollars in the plant, it will be difficult to convince lawmakers to grant future incentives.
"Any incentive becomes very difficult for the administration to put forward, and very difficult for anyone to pass in the legislature. And ultimately it has to pass through the legislature," says Watson.
"It's strictly republican politics," says Democrat Sherry Jones, Representative of District 59.
Democratic representatives Sherry Jones and JoAnne Favors say threatening future funding is coercion.
"That's a budget issue," says Jones. "You don't pull those things out item by item and vote against them."
"We should respect what Volkswagen has asked us to do and leave this decision up to the workers and not be influenced by outside special interest groups," says District 28 Representative JoAnne Favors.
Favors says VW has remained neutral during union talks. And when it comes to a union "driving away suppliers" she says, "If you make handles for an automobile, door handles, you're going to go where the automobiles are, aren't you?"
Volkswagen issued a statement Monday over concerns of possible future expansion, saying in part, "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."
Count on Channel 3 to follow the latest developments.