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Union Foes Vow To Fight State Incentives For Volkswagen

Union Foes Vow To Fight State Incentives For Volkswagen

By Phil Williams. CREATED Jul 10, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A major announcement out of Chattanooga could touch off a political firestorm if union opponents get their way.

As NewsChannel 5 first reported, the United Auto Workers announced Thursday that it's forming a local chapter to represent workers at Volkswagen's plant in Chattanooga.

Even though VW workers rejected the union back in February, UAW leaders now claim they see a potential victory in sight.

"We have had an ongoing discussions with Volkswagen and have arrived at a consensus with the company," UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel told reporters during an afternoon news conference in Chattanooga.

"Upon UAW Local 42 signing up a meaningful portion of Volkswagen's Chattanooga work force, we are confident the company will recognize Local 42 by dealing with its members as a member union."

Over the past year, Tennessee Republicans had vigorously tried to stop the UAW from being able to organize in Chattanooga.

Our investigation first revealed how the Haslam administration had offered $300 million dollars in incentives last year to help Volkswagen expand and create more than a thousand new jobs.

But that money was contingent upon the state's "satisfaction" with VW's deal with the union.

Now, the Haslam administration is negotiating a new incentive offer.

And one union foe is promising to fight any such deal.

"Workers said we don't want a union, yet now Volkswagen and UAW are ignoring that," said Justin Owen, head of the Beacon Center of Tennessee.

"If they're not going to listen to the workers, we as taxpayers have a right to standup and say, you know what, you're not going to get anymore of our money."

Owen said  his group will start a petition to urge the state to not to give Volkswagen any incentives.

Still, the UAW noted recent claims from the governor that he would not walk away from jobs just because they were union jobs, urging him to keep that promise.

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.