Gov. Bill Haslam wary of VW union issue impact on other industries

Gov. Bill Haslam wary of VW union issue impact on other industries

June 25th, 2013 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

Bill Haslam

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam said today that the possibility of Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant becoming unionized is coming up as a topic of concern among other industries the state is trying to recruit to Tennessee.

The Republican governor, who opposes the United Auto Workers' unionization efforts, said "we've heard that from some of the other people considering Tennessee that that would be a negative in their mind if that happened in Chattanooga."

"So," Haslam continued, "we've communicated that to Volkswagen. Ultimately, like I said, we want to see them [Volkswagen] grow here."

The governor also added, "we're not going to have some big showdown over that [unionization] issue" with Volkswagen.

Moreover, Haslam said, "it depends on who you're talking to at Volkswagen exactly where they stand on the issue" of unionization.

The United Auto Workers has long hoped to unionize Volkswagen's plant, seeing it as an opportunity for the union to make headway with foreign auto "transplant" companies setting up operation in the U.S.

Now, national business interests are taking note with the Washington, D.C.-based Competitive Enterprise Institute jumping into the issue with an anti-union billboard. The conservative group, which is involved in any number of issues ranging from taxation to the environment, doesn't disclose its donors.

But the Washington Post reported in a blog post that CEI's annual fundraising dinner last week, donors included energy firms, several conservative foundations including three associated with billionaire businessmen Charles and David Koch as well as Google and Facebook.