2 U.S. House Democrats pressing inquiry into Tennessee VW union vote

Associated Press • Apr 17, 2014 at 9:44 AM

WASHINGTON — Two House Democrats said Wednesday they are beginning their own inquiry into whether Tennessee state officials may have violated "or otherwise run afoul of" federal law by their alleged conduct ahead of a vote by workers at a Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, Tenn., that rejected a bid to be represented by the United Auto Workers union.

They sent a joint letter to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam seeking more information on activities by state officials ahead of the 712-626 vote against the UAW in February.

"Recent reports suggest that the interference on the part of state officials may be even more troubling that we originally thought," said the letter by Reps. George Miller, D-Calif., and John Tierney, D-Mass. Miller is the senior Democrat on the GOP-led House Education and the Workforce Committee. Tierney is the senior Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions subcommittee of that committee.

In a news release, the two lawmakers said they wanted more information on "whether any Tennessee state officials conditioned, or threatened to condition, state aid to Volkswagen on the outcome of workers' efforts to establish a union and/or a works council at the Chattanooga plant."

"Recently released documents suggest that Tennessee state officials made the availability of state aid for expanding the Volkswagen plant — a mix of cash grants and tax incentives — contingent upon the workers' decision not to seek union representation. Such state-level conditioning may interfere with employees' rights to organize and collectively bargain, as guaranteed under the National Labor Relations Act," they wrote.

The union claims the election was tainted by threats and intimidation from Republicans including U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and state lawmakers. Corker and others have denied doing anything inappropriate.

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