NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Bob Corker on Thursday stood by his statements that Volkswagen is ready to announce it will expand its lone U.S. plant in Chattanooga if workers there reject the United Auto Workers.
But the Tennessee Republican said in a phone interview with The Associated Press that he didn't inquire whether the German automaker would scrap plans to build a new midsized SUV at the plant if the UAW wins.
About 1,500 workers at the plant are eligible to cast votes in the three-day union election that ends Friday.
Corker declined to say whom at Volkswagen he had spoken to and how they were in a position to know what the German automaker's decision would be.
While the claimed link between the union vote and the expansion decision has long been denied by company officials, Corker said his sources weren't concerned about the release of a potentially conflicting information.
"I don't think there's any question that a public statement was expected to made," he said. "What I did was very, very appropriate."
Corker's comments could raise questions about interference in a union vote.
John Logan, a labor and employment studies professor at San Francisco State University, said politicians are usually not included in rules governing the behavior of the company, unions and workers during an election.
"But here it could make a difference that he is attributing these comments to VW, even though they appear to be untrue," Logan said in an email.
Corker first made his unattributed claim in a news release on Wednesday night, which prompted Frank Fischer, the CEO of the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, to issue a statement that the company's position remains unchanged.
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