Gov. Haslam denies using $300 million incentive as threat against VW over union plan

Gov. Haslam denies using $300 million incentive as threat against VW over union plan

April 2nd, 2014 by Andy Sher in Business Around the Region

Bill Haslam

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam today rejected assertions he was threatening Volkswagen over a proposed $300 million incentive package by tying the offer to "satisfaction" of state officials about company plans to set up a works council at its Chattanooga plant.

"It wasn't a threat at all. It was just a statement of reality," Haslam told reporters today.

The governor has been on the defensive since the disclosure this week of the state's formal incentives of grants and tax credits offered to Volkswagen to help nab a new SUV line of production in Chattanooga.

Haslam emphasized that "any incentive deal that we do has to be approved by the Legislature. And we had that discussion with them all along, that it was going to be much, much more difficult if the union vote happened."

Volkswagen's Chattanooga workers in February narrowly rejected Unived Auto Workers Union representation at the Chattanooga plant. The UAW has challenged the election, charging Tennessee Republican political leaders ranging from Haslam and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., down to the Republican-run Legislature interfered.

Earlier this week, Nashville's WTVF-TV reported the state made its incentive package contingent on the labor issue's outcome.

The Aug. 23 summary of the package carries this disclaimer toward the top of the page: "The incentives described below are subject to works council discussions between the State of Tennessee and VW being concluded to the satisfaction of the State of Tennessee."