With union vote over, state leaders focus on VW expansion - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

With union vote over, state leaders focus on VW expansion

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

State leaders are stepping on the gas as they try to convince Volkswagen to choose Chattanooga for another vehicle. This comes after local workers rejected the Detroit-based UAW.

Leading up to the UAW vote, Republican lawmakers said a union may squash future incentives for the Volkswagen plant. Those leaders got their wish with a 'no' vote, and are moving full-steam ahead, making sure VW expands its footprint in Chattanooga.

Local leaders have said over and over again, Volkswagen expanding production at the Chattanooga plant, makes sense.

"They've made a big commitment so far. To leverage the investment in the plant, it makes sense for them to have a second vehicle," said Charles Wood with the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.

For state leaders, a lot is on the line. If VW's new Crossblue SUV is built in Chattanooga, production could jump from 150,000 to a quarter of a million vehicles a year. It would also mean hundreds of new jobs.

"I'm hopeful, based on assurances that we've been given that, that will work out," said U.S. Senator Bob Corker.

Over the weekend, Senator Corker said Governor Haslam has already made plans to talk with Volkswagen executives in Germany.

"I spoke at length last night with the governor. We've been in conversations today with Volkswagen Germany, through representatives and have set up meetings, phone meetings later this week," said Corker.

When Volkswagen decided on Chattanooga, state and local incentives reached more than half a billion dollars. Expansion could mean hundreds of millions more.

State Senator Bo Watson tells Channel 3 members of the Department of Economic and Community Development are set to go before the senate finance committee Tuesday for budget talks and discussions of possible incentives could be brought up. But Watson says it is ultimately up to the governor to finalize any deals with VW.

"Hopefully an announcement will be made regarding the Chattanooga plant," said Corker.

There is really not a definite timeline on how soon an announcement could come, although Corker makes it sound like it will be soon.

As far as the union defeat, VW leaders say they are not giving up on establishing a works council at the plant. VW reps are flying to the U.S. in the coming weeks to meet with labor law officials.

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