U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said tonight that he believes that Volkswagen will add the sports utility line in Chattanooga if workers vote down representation by the United Auto Workers.
"I've had conversations today and based on those am assured that should the workers vote against the UAW, Volkswagen will announce in the coming weeks that it will manufacture its new mid-size SUV here in Chattanooga," Corker said in a statement.
Corker stopped short of saying a vote for the UAW would jeopardize plans to add a new SUV line in Chattanooga.
In a statement Wednesday night, VW spokesman Scott Wilson reiterated that the UAW decision would not influence whether or not the company builds an SUV in Chattanooga.
"There is no connection between our Chattanooga employees' decision about whether to be represented by the union and the decision about where to build a new product for the U.S. market," Wilson said.
VW CEO Martin Winterkorn said last month the company wants to add a new SUV to the market in North America. The German auto maker is considering whether to build the new cross over vehicle in Chattanooga or in Puebla, Mexico.
Corker said earlier this week that the UAW would make it more expensive to build in Chattanooga. UAW officials dispute that claim and want outside parties, including Corker, to stay out of the voting decision by the nearly 1,500 hourly workers at the plant.
Corker, an outspoken critic of the UAW, insists he is not an outsider. He was mayor of Chattanooga from 2001-2005, and worked with officials and community leaders to develop the 1,200 acre Enterprise South Industrial Park, which is now home to Volkswagen's North American manufacturing headquarters.
For more on the Chattanooga VW plant union vote, read tomorrow's Times Free Press.