No sign of expansion at plant where UAW dealt loss

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 28, 2014 at 8:08 am •  Published: February 28, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Friday marks the end of the two-week period within which U.S. Sen. Bob Corker promised Volkswagen would announce another line at its factory in Tennessee if workers there rejected representation by the United Auto Workers union.

So far there's little sign of any pending announcement.

Workers at the Chattanooga plant ended up voting 712-626 against the UAW, in an election the union claims was tainted by threats and intimidation from Republicans like Corker, Gov. Bill Haslam and state lawmakers.

The UAW last week filed a challenge with the National Labor Relations Board, seeking to have results voided and a new election to be held.

The appeal cited warnings from GOP lawmakers that a pro-union vote would endanger key state incentives to secure the new line at the plant, and Corker's statements that a vote against the union would be followed in short order an expansion announcement.

"If the UAW is voted down they're going to come here immediately, within a two week period, and affirm they're going to build a line here," Corker told The Associated Press the day before the conclusion of the three-day vote.

The Senator also dismissed the repeated claim by Volkswagen that a decision about whether to build a new SUV either in Chattanooga or at a plant in Mexico was unrelated to the union vote.

"There is no way I'd put out statement like I put out unless I was 1,000 percent that it was accurate in every way," Corker said at the time.

In its appeal, the UAW criticized the statements from Corker and other GOP politicians during the election.

"This resonates as a classic 'fist inside the velvet glove' threat," the UAW appeal said. "If you vote against the union you will be rewarded, but if you go the other way you will be punished.

"Senator Corker knew exactly what he was doing," according to the filing.

Corker blamed the UAW appeal — and the resulting delay in certifying the results of the union election — for putting a hold on expansion talks at the plant.

"Unfortunately, I have to assume that today's action may slow down Volkswagen's final discussions on the new SUV line," he said at the time.

Volkswagen has remained silent on Corker's latest assertions as well as the UAW appeal.

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