Unions and southern auto plants go together like ice cream socials and diabetes, but the mere thought of an organized Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga must give Tennessee Senator Bob Corker bad dreams. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that Corker was asked by VW to give input as to whether or not the facility should take a pro-United Auto Workers stance. The senator reportedly told representatives at the German autoworker that the presence of organized labor would be "highly detrimental."
So why the negative stance on unions? Corker claims that his dealings with the UAW during the bailout of Chrysler and General Motors is the reason he's so sour on the idea in his home state. The senator claims that the UAW put the success of the automakers "way, way, way way" behind the needs of union, adding "I just can't imagine any company of their own accord of being desirous of entering into a relationship with UAW."
Volkswagen currently has a reported "neutral position" concerning unionization in Chattanooga, but according to a study by the Grand Rapids Press in Michigan and other Booth newspapers, the UAW could lead to higher labor costs for the German automaker. The paper says that overall labor costs, which include pension funding and health care, adds up to about $74,000 per year per employee. Non-union automakers reportedly average a much lower $53,000 per year.
But while Corker's feelings about the UAW may or may not give VW pause, neither the senator or the automaker will have the final say in the matter. VW Communication Manager Guenther Scherelis says "the employees will decide for themselves about their representation."
[Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press | Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty]