Volkswagen union scuffle has Range senator putting out welcome mat

Iron Range newsAuto workers in a Tennessee Volkswagen plant voted yesterday on whether to join the United Auto Workers union. VW has stated they would welcome the union if workers opt for it, but Republican politicos in this deep red state have interjected, hoping to keep organized labor out of a region where it has been resisted for generations.

NPR’s Blake Farmer filed an informative story on the Volkswagen union vote which should bring you up to speed.

Amid this news, State Sen. David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm) issued a statement inviting Volkswagen to locate its plant in Minnesota:

Senator Tomassoni Invites Volkswagen to Move to Minnesota

ST. PAUL, MINN. – Chattanooga, Tennessee-based Volkswagen workers are taking a vote today through Friday to join the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. The vote has created a backlash by anti-union forces and Tennessee Republican legislators who are threatening to withhold future business incentives from the company. State Senator David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm), Chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee, invites Volkswagen to consider Minnesota as a place for expansion in the future.

“We’d be more than happy to have Volkswagen in Minnesota. Just this fall Minnesota was ranked the 8th best state for business by Forbes Magazine. This past session we added millions of dollars in business incentives, passed an upfront sales tax exemption on capital equipment purchases and cut unemployment taxes by more than $346 million, none of which would be leveraged against a company because of its business model. Not only has our state created business-friendly conditions, we welcome unionized work forces.”

As much as many would love a Volkswagen union plant in Minnesota, it would have to get pretty bad in Tennessee for VW to pull out of a state where they’re already established. The dominant theme I see in this story is that the workers and company both seem relatively calm and focused on making cars, whereas politicians are the ones going nuts.


  1. It goes without saying Tomassoni will – “welcome unionized work forces”. That’s not news. Will Tomassoni welcome non-union work forces with equal enthusiasm?

  2. It bears mentioning that VW management isn’t merely tolerating the idea of a unionized workforce in Tennessee; they’re practically insisting on it:

    VW has a long-established tradition of works councils, who consult with management to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. And it seems to work just fine, thank you: VW is the world’s second-largest carmaker, and all of its other shops are unionized.

    Corker and Haslam would sooner see the VW plant move to Mexico than allow an auto workers’ union to exist in Tennessee.

    Maybe the TN GOP should get out of VW’s hair and let them operate their business?

  3. German “works councils” aren’t the closed fist, baseball bat carrying AFL/CIO. VW wants to tie the knot with these goons like they want a hole in their head.

  4. “Workers at a Volkswagen factory in Tennessee have voted against union representation in a devastating defeat for the United Auto Workers union’s effort to make inroads in the South. Organizing a Southern plant is so crucial to the union that UAW President Bob King told workers in a speech that the union has no long-term future without it”. – And Bob’s a pretty smart guy. For all our sakes, hope he’s right.

    Should be a no-brainer for Tomassoni to get the next VW plant on the Range. The Range workers love unions, VW loves unions. Let’s see how well he does his job..

  5. Sean is also a smart guy – “We felt like we were already being treated very well by Volkswagen in terms of pay and benefits and bonuses,” said Sean Moss, who voted against the UAW. “We also looked at the track record of the UAW. Why buy a ticket on the Titanic?” he added. Many workers know the union had hurt operations at plants run by General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Chrysler, now a part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, he said. UAW membership has plummeted 75 percent since 1979 and now stands at just under 400,000.

  6. Senator Tomassoniiiiii, you’re awfully silent …WHERE ART THOU!!!

    Have you called Martin, inviting him to visit the Range? Do you realize VW plans to invest BILLIONS in North American? How much of this will be in Minnesota? Do the job we elected you to do!!

    DETROIT, Jan 12, 2014 (Reuters) – Volkswagen said it plans to make a sport utility vehicle tailored for the North American market and to invest $7 billion in the region as it seeks to hike sales. “As a group we will be investing over $7 billion in North America over the next five years,” Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn said in a statement.

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