Turner Asks for Haslam Correspondence With Volkswagen

Friday, September 13, 2013, Vol. 128, No. 179

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) – A Democratic leader in the House says he has asked for correspondence between Gov. Bill Haslam and Volkswagen.

Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that he's "concerned" about Haslam "possibly interfering with (Volkswagen's) internal decisions."

Turner said he wants to see whether Haslam tried to stop unionization efforts at the Chattanooga VW assembly plant by offering additional incentives to the automaker.

"We're asking for all correspondence where (Haslam) may have offered some type of incentive if Volkswagen does not do a works council," the Nashville Democrat said.

Haslam spokesman David Smith said the administration is working on Turner's request, but added, "we don't talk about projects before they're announced."

Clint Brewer, assistant commissioner for the state Department of Economic and Community Development, and VW officials also declined to comment.

The plant in Chattanooga is being considered for a sport utility vehicle line.

The UAW says a majority of workers at the plant have signed cards supporting union representation.

Haslam, a Republican, and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., have urged Volkswagen to resist unionization efforts by the United Auto Workers and said efforts to recruit business are already being hindered.

Turner said he's surprised at Haslam's efforts to discourage unionization.

"I don't know if a governor's ever gone into a private company and advised them not to unionize or make any kind of private decision," he said. "You talk about socialism. That's never been done. Just because he has a personal distaste for unions?"

The Open Records request from Turner ask for copies of records "that concern any correspondence between the Executive Branch of the State of Tennessee and Volkswagen. Included in the Executive Branch are Governor Haslam, his staff, and the following departments: Labor, Economic and Community Development, Revenue, and Finance and Administration.

"To narrow the scope of inquiry, I am only asking for correspondence that pertains to any incentives for Volkswagen or the discussion of unionization of current or future Volkswagen employees," Turner wrote.

Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, www.timesfreepress.com

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