(Reuters) - German automaker Volkswagen AG, in a brief but bluntly worded statement on Thursday, said a vote this week on union representation at its Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant would have no bearing on whether it will build a new crossover vehicle there.
The statement was contrary to U.S. Senator Bob Corker's announcement on Wednesday that he had been "assured" that if workers at the factory reject United Auto Worker representation, the company would reward the plant with a new product to build.
"There is no connection between our Chattanooga employees' decision about whether to be represented by a union and the decision about where to build a new product for the U.S. market," said Frank Fischer, chairman and chief executive officer of Volkswagen Chattanooga.
Corker, a Tennessee Republican, made the assertion, which ran counter to previous public statements by VW, on the first day of a three-day secret ballot election of blue-collar workers on UAW representation.
On Thursday, Corker issued a second statement, saying his information is better than that of Fischer, the top-ranked VW official at Chattanooga.