CHATTANOOGA, TN. (WDEF-TV) - Almost 1600 hourly employees at Volkswagen are voting on whether to organize under the United Auto Workers.
The 3-day voting window ends Friday.
But a debate between the top man at Volkswagen and Senator Bob Corker heated up over whether a pro-union vote would affect an expansion of the plant.
As employees decide the fate of the UAW, the rhetoric continues between Volkswagen management and U.S. Senator Bob Corker.
The senator came to Chattanooga two days ago to hold a news conference opposing unionization, but also to accuse V-W of giving the UAW more access to the employees.
But it was this statement from his office on Wednesday that started a heated exchange of emails.
Corker said, in part:
"I've had conversations today and based on those, am assured that should the workers vote against the UAW, Volkswagen will announce the in coming weeks that it will manufacture its new mid-size SUV here in Chattanooga."
That brought this response from Volkswagen CEO Frank Fischer:
"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."
Corker said much the same in his Tuesday news conference.
SEN. BOB CORKER, (R) TENNESSEE "They've stated clearly that the vote here has nothing to do with whether they come here or not for the expansion."
But, Corker fired back at Fischer in his latest email from Washington:
"Believe me, the decisions regarding the Volkswagen expansions are not being made by anyone in management at the Chattanooga plant".
He accused Fischer of using "old talking points" to respond to press inquiries.
Corker joined state and other local leaders in stressing that a pro-union vote may cost the plant some state funding.
That thought was echoed on Monday by state senator Bo Watson.
"BO" WATSON, (R) HIXSON "Should the workers at Volkswagen chose to be represented by the United Auto Workers, then I believe many additional incentives from the citizens of the state of Tennessee for expansion or otherwise, will have a very tough time passing the senate."
Watson says the state has tossed-in benefits amounting to a billion dollars for the Enterprise South plant.
Volkswagen has not responded to our request for information about how, and when, the results of the union election will be announced.