Corker Fears UAW Would Have "Dampening Effect" On Chattanooga

Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Senator Bob Corker at VW press conference
Senator Bob Corker at VW press conference
- photo by Hollie Webb

Tennessee Senator Bob Corker said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon, "It's not about union or anti-union, it's about the way the UAW conducts business."

He said, "I know the Volkswagen management would be very open to employees weighing in if they want to form their own union" but that the UAW and similar entities "have been such a destructive force in the automobile industry."

Senator Corker said he decided to speak out after concerns that some of his previous statements had been misconstrued by the UAW. He said, "We had concerns they were using my words inside the plant to support what the UAW was doing."

He told those in the room, "The greatest moment of my career was getting the call that Volkswagen was coming here. It was an incredibly emotional moment." He said he and former County Mayor Claude Ramsey worked for years to ensure the the success of the plant.

Discussing the UAW, he said, "I was very inovled in the auto bailout discussions, I know them well." He said during that time, even the Obama administration "slapped them down."

Senator Corker said, "Their key to survival was to be able to come down and organize the plants in the southeast." He also said the UAW was the biggest shareholder in General Motors, one of Volkswagen's biggest competitors.

He said, "We actually like the Works Council. We love the collaborative approach. We are concerned about the impact an outside entity could have on our community. Look at Detroit."

He said companies had already expressed concern about moving to a state where the UAW was having momentum.

He asked "How many companies from Germany, South Korea, from other parts of the world, are going to Detroit when they begin looking at where they're going to open a plant? I don't think you'll find many."

He said he believed that if the UAW succeeded, they would act well for three to five years, but said, "I know that over time, based on past behavior, they'll do things to damage this community."

He also pointed out that the Volkswagen employees had little to gain from the UAW in terms of wages, saying they already had higher wages than any plant that has worked with the UAW. He also said their working facility was one of the "finest in the world."

He said, "I have tremendous empathy for the employees. They're in the middle in some ways of something that is much bigger than what's happening at the plant."

He also expressed concern that employees were not able to hear both sides because of a neutrality agreement that the Volkswagen management is in. He said, "I'm absolutely convinced, if local management could just voice their concerns, the UAW would never win."

However, he said, "We don't care about the UAW in the scope of things, we care about the community."

He said, "I"m sorry to express so much passion on this issue, but I love this community. I love living here. I love driving across the railroad tracks into downtown."

He said, "For 25 years now our community has been on an upward march. It's been incredible how people from all walks of life have come together to take our community to where it is today."

He told the audience he wanted Chattanooga to keep making progress but that he was concerned the UAW would have a "dampening affect" on this.

"We're concerned that if they come in and actually win this election, it's something that we can overcome, but it's something that will hurt businesses and the standard of living here."

He said, "I care deeply that those who come after us have a a better future and a better way of life."

 


Man Shot In Knee On W. 38th Street; Won't Cooperate With Police

A man was shot in the knee on West 38th Street on Monday afternoon. Police said he would not cooperate with the investigation. At approximately 4:59 p.m., Chattanooga Police responded to 262 West 38 th for a person shot.  Officers located a 22-year-old black male suffering from a single gunshot wound to his knee.  The victim was transported to a local hospital ... (click for more)

2 Brothers Arrested For Armed Robbery At Dollar Store

Two brothers have been arrested for the armed robbery of the Dollar Store on 23rd Street that took place on July 3.  According to police, Dominique and Trevor Casteel came into the store with pistols, demanding money. The two cashiers working handed them the tills from the cash register, and then they said the men put the money in a drawstring bag and fled.  Bandanas ... (click for more)

Senator Bob Corker: An Open Letter To Tennesseans

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a state in which companies worldwide are clamoring to establish a presence. Many attribute it to our pro-business culture, well-prepared workforce, low tax environment, right-to-work policies, and engaged citizenry.  That is why the announcement by Volkswagen to build its midsize sports utility vehicle and establish the South’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Wamp Refuses To Stoop

With less than two weeks before the Aug. 7 th election and the last week of early voting now underway in Hamilton County, Congressional challenger Weston Wamp sounded upbeat and relaxed early yesterday afternoon. “I’m pleased to say that I believe we are right where we need to be … maybe even more than we had hoped.” Wamp, who is challenging two-term incumbent Chuck Fleishmann ... (click for more)

Prep Football Practice Starts Today

Coaches barking instructions, players blocking and tackling, quarterbacks and receivers working on timing routes and error-free handoffs to fleet-footed running backs.   In the greater Chattanooga area and throughout the state it can mean just one thing. It’s time for Prep Football 2014.   Today is the first official day ... (click for more)

NPSL National Championship To Be Played At Red Bulls Arena

The NPSL announced on Monday that the national championship match between Chattanooga FC and the Red Bulls U23 will be played on Saturday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.  The match will be played following an MLS match between New York Red Bulls and the New England Revolution.   Local fans took to social media to appeal for the game to be played in Chattanooga. ... (click for more)