Tenn. leaders downplay union debate at VW plant

 

Associated Press

Tennessee leaders downplayed the often public wrangling over organized labor's role at Volkswagen's Chattanooga factory on Tuesday, focusing on the company's recent announcement that it would add a new line there to produce a seven-passenger SUV.

Volkswagen on Monday announced the expansion, which is expected to cost $600 million and add about 2,000 new factory jobs at the Chattanooga site. About 2,400 employees work at the factory now, making the Passat midsize car. The company also plans to add a research and development facility, employing about 200 engineers.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said the terms of the deal came together about five weeks ago, prior to what UAW leaders have called a "consensus" with Volkswagen.

UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel said last week he is confident VW will recognize the union if it signs up a "meaningful portion" of Volkswagen's workforce in Chattanooga, though he did not elaborate on what the threshold would be.

State and local leaders celebrating the expansion at a downtown event Tuesday afternoon said the investment demonstrates Volkswagen's commitment to the region.

"There are cities and communities all over the country that would love to be sitting where Chattanooga is sitting today," Haslam said.

The role of organized labor at the factory caused months of political debate in Tennessee, centered on an employee vote on joining the United Auto Workers Union. Republican federal and state lawmakers had warned that Volkswagen would expand elsewhere if employees approved, and said a $300 million state incentive package couldn't get legislative support if the union was involved. That package has since expired.

The UAW narrowly lost that vote in February, a major setback for the union trying to organize its first foreign-owned plant in the South. Union leaders blamed the GOP politicians' statements for the close result, and filed — but later withdrew — a challenge of the outcome with the National Labor Relations Board.

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker was a frequent critic of the union effort and said during Tuesday's event that the deal couldn't have been completed "unless we all had taken the path that we took."

"There's been a lot of noise, but it just hasn't been part of the equation," Corker said in an interview after the event when asked about the union involvement. "It hasn't been relevant."

Volkswagen representatives have said the company has no formal agreement with UAW. The company has said it would support a German-style works council at the plant that would represent both salaried and blue-collar workers, but said it cannot do so without the involvement of an independent union.

Associated Press writers Erik Schelzig and Tom Krisher contributed to this report.

Read more Breaking News - Business stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
FILE - In this Monday, May 12, 2014 file photo, People walk past a wall set up in front of Nissan's showroom under renovation in Tokyo. Healthy sales and a favorable exchange rate pushed up Nissan's fiscal first quarter profit nearly 37 percent, as vehicle sales grew in North America, China and other overseas markets. Nissan Motor Co. reported a better-than-expected income of 112 billion yen ($1.1 billion) for April-June, up from 82 billion yen a year earlier.

    Nissan profit rises on strong sales, cheap yen

    Nissan's quarterly profit rose nearly 37 percent, helped by a favorable exchange rate and healthy sales in North America and China.

  • Virus drugmaker fights pediatricians' new advice

    A costly drug given mostly to premature babies is at the center of a clash between the manufacturer and the nation's leading pediatrician's group, which recommends scaling back use of the medicine.

  •  
In this May 22, 2014, photo train cars containing coal roll into an unloading facility at Dominion Terminal Associates' coal terminal in Newport News, Va. As the Obama administration weans the U.S. off dirty fuels blamed for global warming, energy companies have been sending more of America’s unwanted energy leftovers to other parts of the world, where they could create even more pollution. With companies looking to double America’s coal exports, the nation’s growing position in the global energy trade could make global warming worse, fueling the world’s demand for coal when many experts say most fossil fuels should remain in the ground to avert the most disastrous effects of climate change.

    Not in my backyard: US sending dirty coal abroad

    As the Obama administration weans the U.S. off dirty fuels blamed for global warming, energy companies have been sending more of America's unwanted energy leftovers to other parts of the world where they could create even more pollution.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category