Corker: Don't let the UAW silence public officials

Corker: Public officials have the right to make statements taking sides in a union election. Photo credit: BLOOMBERG
UPDATED: 3/4/14 4:42 pm ET - adds UAW statement

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., today accused the UAW of trying to silence public officials as part of the union's appeal of a failed organizing vote at Volkswagen AG's Tennessee assembly plant last month.

Corker, in an op-ed published by The Wall Street Journal today, described the UAW's challenge of the vote as a threat to free speech.

The UAW is asking the National Labor Relations Board to review the vote, which it lost 712-626. Union officials contend Corker and other public officials in Tennessee interfered with the vote outcome by suggesting publicly that VW would forgo a planned investment at the factory if the union won the right to represent some 1,500 workers.

"In every similar case where a company has remained neutral in a union-election drive, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have voiced their opinions," Corker said in the op-ed. "The NLRB has ruled repeatedly that public officials have the right to make statements taking sides in a union election, and that those statements do not justify overturning the outcome of that election."

A UAW spokeswoman said Tuesday the union was "focused on the NLRB investigation of Corker’s conduct" and would have no further comment.