Tennessee governor stands against VW tossing out election and accepting UAW

Arkansas-Tennessee Live Blog
photo Bill Haslam

NASHVILLE -- Gov. Bill Haslam said today he doesn't favor Volkswagen recognizing the United Auto Workers based on union authorization cards after plant employees narrowly voted against unionization in February.

But the governor, who along with fellow Republican politicians has fought the UAW's unionization attempts at virtually every turn, said it's premature to say whether his administration wouldn't offer state incentives to Volkswagen if that were to occur, The Nashville Post reported today.

"We'll have to wait and see how that plays out," The Nashville Post quoted Haslam saying this morning. "Obviously, we believe in the importance of a vote. We think democracy matters, no matter where you are. There was a vote at the plant and the UAW did not win the vote, we think that should mean something."

The anti-union group Center for Worker Freedom said Monday it believes Volkswagen's top managers are considering sidestepping the election in which workers voted by a 53 percent to 47 percent margin against recognizing the union.

The group's head, Matt Patterson, said he heard Volkswagen officials are weighing letting in the union via authorization cards. The UAW has said it garnered a majority of plant workers' signatures on cards as it prepared the legal groundwork leading to the unionization election.

Haslam said he doesn't know whether Volkswagen intends to rely on the card checks or not.

The state last year put a $300 million incentive offer on the table to entice VW into adding a second line of production for SUVs at its Chattanooga plant. But those were later withdraw -- the administration said they "expired" after VW officials did not move with the union election coming up.

Asked if any move by VW to recognize the UAW via the union card checks would jeopardize future state offers of incentives, Haslam said, "It's too early to get there.

"There's a lot of conjecture about what may or may not be happening down there," Haslam said. "I think the main thing for us, like we've said, is we're ready to sit down with Volkswagen and say whoever can come speak for the company, let's sit down and have these conversations about hopefully expanding in Chattanooga."