NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam says he's "very pleased" that a top Volkswagen AG official is apparently saying union representation at the company's Chattanooga auto assembly plant shouldn't come without a secret ballot vote.
"I've said all along that if they're going to adopt a union there it should be by a vote not and not by card check," Haslam told reporters today. "I was very pleased to hear them say last week that if they were going to have [a union] it would have to be by a vote."
The United Auto Workers says it has collected signed union cards from more than half the 2,000 production workers as it seeks to unionize the plant. The UAW wants the company to recognize the union without having a full-fledged secret vote of workers.
Bernd Osterloh, an employee representative on Volkswagen's supervisory board, was quoted last week in The Wall Street Journal as saying the manufacturer backs creating a European-style "works council" to negotiate work site management and conditions.
But the Journal that said Osterloh "appears to call for a vote on the issue" after he said in a statement that "democracy does not end at the plant gates. This principle is not negotiable."
The company hasn't announced yet whether it will recognize the union through the card check or force a secret-ballot vote.
But the Journal said VW American spokesman Tony Cervone said the company believes it has good relations with its employees and noted any decision on representation will be made by employees "by a formal vote, if that's necessary."
Haslam and fellow Republicans including U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., strongly oppose VW recognizing the UAW, saying it would be detrimental to luring other companies to the state.