published Monday, May 12th, 2014

Corker: Things 'moving in right direction" on VW plant expansion in Chattanooga

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker
Photo by Associated Press.

NASHVILLE -- U.S. Sen. Bob Corker said today he believes things are "moving in the right direction" on Volkswagen's pending decision on whether to add a second line of production at the auto manufacturer's Chattanooga plant.

"There was never any indication that today they were going to make a decision," the Tennessee Republican told reporters in Nashville following a news conference on a Senate bill that seeks to boost royalty payments to song writers.

VW's supervisory board met earlier today at the company's German headquarters.

Corker said "my guess is that in the very near future" Volkswagen will decide. "I'm not going to put a time frame, but it's moving in the right direction."

Tennessee had offered Volkswagen officials, who are also considering a SUV line in Mexico, a $300 million incentive package to put the line next to its existing Chattanooga plant. But Haslam withdrew the offer as workers prepared to vote on unionization at the plant.

Plant workers narrowly rejected unionization efforts in February, sparking an appeal by the United Auto Workers, who accused Gov. Bill Haslam, Corker and fellow Republicans of poisoning the waters.

Corker claimed in the midst of the union vote that Chattanooga that VW officicials told him the local plant would be all but certain to get the plant if workers rejected unionization and near certain to lose it if they did unionize.

Last week, Gov. Bill Haslam told reporters there has been virtually no conversation swith Volkswagen since the failed union vote and a later appeal by the United Auto Workers.

“We’ve had conversations about trying to set up a meeting,” the governor told reporters last Thursday. “But we haven’t had any meetings.”

Corker said, "I think if you had that conversation with the governor today he'd give you a different response. Again, the election was just certified within the last few weeks and you know things are moving in the direction that we thought they would."

Asked if Chattanooga is now a shoo-in for the plant, Corker said, "Well, I'm saying we had a long pause, which was unfortunate. and it takes a while to sort of get the gears back moving again.

"But I have no indication that things are different than we thought prior to the election. It does take a while to sort of get everybody moving together and moving ahead. But again, there's more happening than meets the eye, and I think if you asked the governor today who he thinks is making the decision he'd give you a different answer. You might ask him today."

There was no immediate response from a Haslam spokesman.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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