A union said Thursday that Volkswagen isn’t hiring enough local workers in building the automaker’s Chattanooga assembly plant, a charge the company denied.
Tom Owens, director of marketing and communications for the AFL-CIO’s building and construction trades department in Washington, D.C., said in an e-mail that many construction contracts are being awarded to out-of-state contractors bringing their own work forces.
He said out-of-state workers are “displacing Tennessee skilled craft workers who would like nothing more that an opportunity to work on the VW plant’s construction.”
Mr. Owens also said “a significant number” of workers on the construction site are illegal immigrants. “Some of our folks out on the job tell us that many of the Hispanic workers are using Mexican drivers licenses as ID,” Mr. Owens said.
However, VW spokeswoman April Wortham said the automaker is committed to working with local companies.
She said that as of Thursday, the amount of contracts awarded to Tennessee or Chattanooga area companies is $437.1 million.
“One of the reasons that Volkswagen chose Chattanooga is the availability of a well-qualified local work force,” she said. “We do not discriminate against local companies who may employ workers from the local labor shed, which naturally includes neighboring states such as Alabama and Georgia.”
In addition, she said, it is not only federal law but a Volkswagen requirement that all contractors and subcontractors maintain legal documentation for workers on the site.
“All of our contractors and subcontractors have confirmed to us in writing that all of their workers are documented,” she said.
Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...