U.S. Sen. Bob Corker argues in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece
today that if the National Labor Relations Board calls for a new union election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, it will effectively 'muzzle' public officials from speaking out on important labor issues.
"If the National Labor Relations Board upholds these objections, it would be an unprecedented assault on free speech," Corker wrote in the piece. "In every similar case where a company has remained neutral in a union-election drive, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have voiced their opinions. The NLRB has ruled repeatedly that public officials have the right to make statements taking sides in a union election, and that those statements do not justify overturning the outcome of that election."
Corker, a strident opponent of the United Auto Workers, was instrumental in bringing VW to Tennessee when he was Chattanooga mayor a decade ago.
Before the vote, Corker argued that unionization would hurt the plant's ability to compete and would threaten the long-term sustainability of thousands of Tennessee jobs.
During the first day of voting, Corker publicly shared a tip that VW would soon announce plans to build its new midsize SUV at the Chattanooga facility, provided workers decline to unionize.
The UAW countered that Corker and other officials - including Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam - unfairly influenced the vote at the plant.