Haslam: UAW losing the vote should mean something

Governor opposes VW unilateral recognition of union in Chattanooga

Gov. Bill Haslam said it’s premature to say whether state incentives for Volkswagen would go away if the company were to recognize the United Auto Workers despite a narrow employee vote against unionization.

“We’ll have to wait and see how that plays out. 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,” said Haslam.

The governor said his administration has not heard word whether the chatter is true. An anti-union group, the Center for Worker Freedom, alleged Monday that VW may let the union in anyway despite it losing on a 53 percent to 47 percent vote.

When asked if that move would effect the governor’s approach to pending VW incentives the administration linked to the state’s satisfaction to the outcome of labor talks, the governor said, “It’s too early to get there.

“There’s a lot of conjecture about what may or may not be happening down there.  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,” he said.

Negotiations between the auto maker and the state have stalled this spring. Haslam said VW called his administration shortly after the failed UAW vote in February saying the company wants to resume conversations.

But the state hasn’t heard from VW since then, said Haslam, a lack of communication the governor said he believes may have to do with VW awaiting the outcome of a complaint by the UAW filed with the National Labor Relations Board that challenged the outcome of the election.