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Governor Sidesteps Questions About Reported VW-UAW Talks

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Governor Sidesteps Questions About Reported VW-UAW Talks

By Phil Williams. CREATED Apr 8, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam declined to say Tuesday whether a decision by Volkswagen to recognize the United Auto Workers at its Chattanooga plant would affect his administration's offer of incentives to the automaker.

That follows a claim made this week by the anti-union Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) that Volkswagen may disregard a secret vote that the UAW narrowly lost back in February and recognize the union anyway. ATR said that would be a "betrayal" of VW workers.

"Obviously, we believe in the importance of a vote," Haslam told NewsChannel 5 Investigates following a prayer breakfast. "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."

Would that affect his administration's approach to incentives?

"It's too early to get there," the governor responded.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates obtained confidential documents showing that the Haslam administration had offered Volkswagen $300 million in incentives last August to help it add an SUV line at its Chattanooga plant. That offer was made at the same time that the UAW was talking to the company about forming a worker's council.

But, despite the governor's earlier statements that the incentives were not tied to the defeat of the UAW, the offer stated that they were "subject to works council discussions between the State of Tennessee and VW being concluded to the satisfaction of the State of Tennessee."

Both Volkswagen and the UAW have declined to comment on the claim by Americans for Tax Reform.

Back to NC5 Investigates: Tennessee's Secret Deals
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Phil Williams

Phil Williams

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Phil Williams is chief investigative reporter for NewsChannel 5's nationally award-winning investigative team. His investigations have earned him journalism's highest honors.