WASHINGTON -- Volkswagen AG has been soliciting subsidies from Tennessee and Mexico, hoping to pick a production site this year for a mid-sized SUV due to go on sale in 2016.
And it seems that this week's UAW election at the VW assembly plant in Chattanooga could tilt the competition in Mexico's favor.
The reason? Republican lawmakers in Tennessee might no longer want to double down on the $580 million in state and local incentives that they offered VW in 2008.
If the workers opt for UAW representation, VW would have a "very tough time" securing more incentives from the state legislature, Bo Watson, a state senator from suburban Chattanooga, said during a press conference this morning. He was flanked by House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, a powerful figure in Tennessee politics, who said the "heavy hand" of the UAW is unwelcome in the state.
"The taxpayers of Tennessee reached out to Volkswagen and welcomed them to our state and our community," McCormick, a Republican from Chattanooga, said in an e-mail to Automotive News. "We are glad they are here. But that is not a green light to help force a union into the workplace. That was not part of the deal."