Tennessee has dropped a spot in Chief Executive magazine's annual rating of the best and worst states for business over political interference on labor issues at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga.
According to the magazine, Tennessee is on the downward trend because "state politicians shouldn't have messed in Volkswagen's unionization business." The state's ranking dropped from third to fourth.
Opposition to the United Auto Workers' efforts to unionize the Volkswagen plant has been led by Republicans like U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam. Corker said in 2013 that VW would become a "laughingstock" if the UAW was recognized at the Chattanooga plant and Tennessee Senate Pro Tem Bo Watson, R-Chattanooga, last year called Volkswagen's approach to unions "unAmerican."
Documents leaked last year revealed that the Haslam administration tried to make a $300 million incentive package for Volkswagen contingent on labor talks "being concluded to the satisfaction" of the state, though the governor declined to say which scenarios would have satisfied the state.
Despite the drop in the Volunteer State rating among chief executives polled by the magazine, Clint Brewer, assistant commissioner for communications and marketing for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, said that Tennessee has "unmatched logistic advantages, the lowest taxes and debt in the country, and is a strong right-to-work state."
"We continue to work hard to attract and grow jobs here and are pleased to be ranked as a top tier location time and again," he said.