State House Democratic lawmakers and a labor union attorney this afternoon attacked comments from Republican officials threatening future economic incentive deals with Volkswagen if employees agree to allow unionization of the company's Chattanooga plant.
Nashville attorney George Barrett warned in a news conference at the state Capitol that if state officials carry through with such threats, they could be sued in court.
"It gives labor lawyers an opportunity to come to court to have this type of threat declared unconstitutional," Barrett said.
Barrett said retaliation could be seen as violating both the National Labor Relations Act and provisions in the U.S. Constitution.
At an earlier news conference today in Chattanooga, Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, a Hixson Republican, warned that should workers vote for United Auto Workers union representation, "I believe any additional incentives from the citizens of the state of Tennessee for expansion or otherwise will have a very tough time passing the Tennessee Senate."
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville called Watson's remarks "an outrageous and unprecedented effort by state officials to violate the rights of employers and workers."
Republicans "are basically threatening to kill jobs if workers exercise their federally protected rights to organize," Turner said.
"When the company says they don't have a problem with it, what right does the state have to come in and say they can't do it?" Turner said.
Read more in tomorrow's Times Free Press.