Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., warned that if the National Labor Relations Board backs a complaint filed by the United Auto Workers Friday it would have the effect of muzzling lawmakers from being able to comment on workplace elections. The UAW complaint alleges that comments by Corker tainted a union election last week at Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga.
In an interview Tuesday morning, Corker told CNBC:
The question will be: Will they try to muzzle or keep a United States senator, a governor or a state legislator from being able to express their views? The fact is, if I cannot weigh in on things that I know to be true, if I cannot weigh in on the experiences that I've had with the UAW and their path of job destruction in our community when something like this is being discussed, what can I do? It's going to be an interesting debate over the next period of time as to whether the National Labor Relations Board holds to what it has done for 50 years, that people like me can weigh in, or whether they will try to muzzle people like me who are trying to look out for their community.
During the election, Corker issued a press release stating that if the Chattanooga factory workers rejected the union that would not prevent VW from expanding production there. He said VW officials had told him this in private conversations. This ran contrary to public comments by VW, which had indicated that a union was necessary for expansion. VW officials denied having had such conversations with Corker but the senator stood by his comments.
UAW subsequently lost the organizing bid. It has called on the NLRB to void the election result and order a new one, claiming that Corker's comment tainted the election.
Ironically, the UAW had opposed the workers being able to vote on unionizing in the first place, having instead called on the NLRB to unionize the plant based on card check.