Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker were among several Tennessee politicians subpoenaed as part of the United Auto Workers' appeal of the failed union vote at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga.
The union this week sent out subpoenas for Haslam, Corker and others involved in the case to require their attendance at an April 21 hearing in Chattanooga. The results of that hearing will determine whether there will be a new election at the plant.
Also on the list of those subpoenaed were Bill Hagerty, the state's commissioner of economic and community development; state House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, state Sen. Bo Watson; House Speaker Beth Harwell; Matt Patterson, president of the Center for Worker Freedom; and some Chattanooga officials.
The UAW claims that these elected officials interfered with the union vote by making public comments, including some that seemed to indicate Volkswagen could lose incentive money if the union vote was successful.
"After a stinging defeat, rather than respect the workers' decision, the UAW is trying to create a sideshow and we've referred this matter to legal counsel," said Todd Womack, Corker's chief of staff:. "We hope other people who might be inclined to consider the UAW will take this development as a cautionary tale."
In a five-page filing with the National Labor Relations Board late last month, the UAW cited internal state documents and emails that union lawyers claim show that the state threatened to withdraw $300 million in promised incentives to Volkswagen of America if the vote to unionize was successful.
Haslam, who has been a vocal critic of the United Auto Workers' efforts to represent workers at Volkswagen's lone U.S. plant, has long denied suggestions that tax credits, grants and other incentives were tied to the union being rejected at the factory.
"During this process, we've heard concerns from suppliers and other companies about unionization, and we have talked about all of those things publicly," said Dave A. Smith, a Haslam spokesman. "We never have made any different financial offer — for more or less — based on whether the company unionized or not."
In its original petition, the union cited what it called "threatening and intimidating" public statements by top elected officials, including U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and Republican leaders in the General Assembly, including Harwell.
The petition and the supplement cited what the UAW called a coordinated effort by state officials and anti-union organizations to influence the election.