Appearing on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” to discuss Volkswagen Chattanooga workers’ recent vote against representation by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, Senator Bob Corker questioned whether the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will try to “muzzle” elected officials from weighing in on issues important to their communities. Last Friday, the UAW filed an appeal with the NLRB regarding the election.
“Now this is going to the National Labor Relations Board, something that the president controls. The question will be: will they try to muzzle or keep a United States senator, a governor or a state legislator from being able to express their views?” said Senator Corker. “The fact is, if I cannot weigh in on things that I know to be true, if I cannot weigh in on the experiences that I've had with the UAW and their path of job destruction in our community when something like this is being discussed, what can I do? It's going to be an interesting debate over the next period of time as to whether the National Labor Relations Board holds to what it has done for 50 years, that people like me can weigh in, or whether they will try to muzzle people like me who are trying to look out for their community."
On Feb. 14, workers at the Volkswagen Chattanooga plant voted 712-626 against representation by the UAW. Following the vote, Senator Corker said: “Needless to say, I am thrilled for the employees at Volkswagen and for our community and its future.”
Last week, Senator Corker responded to the UAW’s appeal: “The workers at Chattanooga's Volkswagen plant spoke very clearly last week, so we are disappointed the UAW is ignoring their decision and has filed this objection. Unfortunately, I have to assume that today's action may slow down Volkswagen’s final discussions on the new SUV line,” said Senator Corker. “This complaint affirms the point many of us have been making: that the UAW is only interested in its own survival and not the interests of the great employees at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen facility nor the company for which they work.”
As mayor of Chattanooga from 2001-2005, Senator Corker worked with officials and community leaders to develop the 1,200 acre Enterprise South Industrial Park, which is now home to Volkswagen's North American manufacturing headquarters. Much of the negotiation that led to Volkswagen choosing Chattanooga occurred around the dining room table of Senator Corker’s Chattanooga home.