Updated at 533 p.m. on Monday, April 29, 2019, with more information.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Monday visited the Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga where he talked to employees and toured the factory's training academy.
But reporters weren't informed of the visit nor permitted into the plant or able to ask questions after Lee spent about an hour at the factory.
Amanda Plecas, the plant's head of communications, said the visit "was not union-related." But, the longtime business owner told the employees that while every workplace has its challenges, the environment is best when he has a direct relationship with the workers, according to a recording obtained by Labor Notes. The comment drew applause and catcalls from employees.
She said Lee indicated that Monday was the governor's 100th day in office.
"He said he wanted to be here on his 100th day and see the investment in the [Volkswagen] Academy," Plecas said.
Some VW workers earlier this month petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for an election to align with the United Auto Workers.
An NLRB hearing officer held a hearing in Chattanooga on April 17. Since that time, lawyers for Volkswagen filed a legal brief to strike down the request for the new union election at the plant, while a UAW attorney stepped up the case for a vote in a brief.
Brian Rothenberg of the UAW International said Monday that Gov. Lee has met with UAW leaders at General Motors' Spring Hill production plant.
"Clearly Chattanooga workers deserve the same bargaining rights as the GM Spring Hill workers and every other VW worker in the world," Rothenberg said. 'Why wouldn't the governor want that?"
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