With voting having already begun today at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee over whether or not to unionize, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who was instrumental as Chattanooga’s mayor in wooing Volkswagen to Tennessee, dropped a bombshell late Wednesday afternoon.
Senator Bob Corker said Wednesday that Chattanooga will be getting the production of a second line of vehicles as long as the UAW is not voted in by employees.
He said, “I’ve had conversations today and based on those am assured that should the workers vote against the UAW, Volkswagen will announce in the coming weeks that it will manufacture its new mid-size SUV here in Chattanooga.”
His staff said, “As mayor of Chattanooga from 2001-2005, worked with officials and community leaders to develop the 1,200 acre Enterprise South Industrial Park, which is now home to Volkswagen’s North American manufacturing headquarters.
While the subject of the Chattanooga plant expansion has been debated for nearly a year with German union officials conditioning the plant expansion on unionization, then later backtracking, Corker’s announcement does make economic sense.
A UAW victory would cause Volkswagen’s production costs to become an unknown for an unknown period of time until a contract could be reached.
The stakes couldn’t be higher for VW’s employees in Chattanooga.
The company will invest $7 billion in North America over the next five years in its quest to sell more than 1 million Volkswagen and Audi vehicles in the U.S. by 2018.
[Volkswagen CEO Martin] Winterkorn would not say where the SUV would be built, but its plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., is under consideration.
According to a website run by Volkswagen employees opposed to UAW representation, voting at the plant continues through Friday.
Now, as VW employees weigh their decision, there is more to consider than merely giving control over to the UAW.