Did Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) illegally interfere with the United Auto Workers’ (UAW) attempt to organize workers at the Volkswagen (VW) plant in Chattanooga, TN? Democrats in the U.S. House want to know.
Reps. George Miller (D-CA) and John Tierney (D-MA) have opened an investigation into whether the governor attempted to tie a $300 million government incentive package to the German automaker’s workers’ decision not to join a union. Doing so would be in direct violation of federal law.
“Recent press reports suggest Tennessee state officials may have conditioned state aid – a mix of cash, cash equivalents and tax credits – for adding a new full-size sport utility vehicle line to the VW plant on the outcome of the workers’ representation question,” reads a letter from Miller and Tierney to Haslam. “In circumstances in which state aid has been conditioned or is threatened to be conditioned on the outcome of a question of workers’ representation, Congress has a significant interest. Such state-level conditioning may undermine employees’ federally-granted freedom to choose whether or not to be represented by a union.”
The House Democrats have given Haslam 30 days to provide a list of requested information for determining “the extent to which the activities of Tennessee state officials may have undermined, or attempted to undermine, federal rights guaranteed to workers in Chattanooga.”
VW workers voted 712 to 626 to reject the UAW in an election held in February. Early reports indicated Republican officials, including Gov. Haslam and Sen. Corker, interfered with the election by making public comments threatening to withdraw the $300 aid package if VW workers unionized. The UAW immediately challenged the election citing “outside interference” and asked the National Labor Relations Board to overturn the results and order a new election.