NASHVILLE, Tenn. — United Auto Workers lawyers issued subpoenas Wednesday for Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, U.S. Senator Bob Corker and key members of the Haslam administration to testify at an upcoming hearing over the union’s efforts to organize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga.
Economic and Community Development (ECD) Commissioner Bill Hagerty, ECD chief-of-staff Will Alexander, House Speaker Beth Harwell, Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson and Rep. Gerald McCormick were among the 20 individuals or organizations to receive subpoenas.
Corker’s chief-of-staff Todd Womack and press secretary Micah Johnson were listed on the subpoena list, along with conservative activists Grover Norquist and Matt Patterson.
View subpoena list
The subpoenas call for them to testify before a National Labor Relations Board hearing later this month, where the UAW is challenging a vote that it narrowly lost at the VW plant. It asks those officials to bring all documents relating to economic incentives offered to Volkswagen.
Documents recently leaked to NewsChannel 5 Investigates show the Haslam administration wanted a say in the automaker’s deal with organized labor — in exchange for $300 million in economic incentives to help VW expand its Chattanooga operations.
The governor had emphatically denied rumors heard by Democratic lawmakers that state incentives were tied to Volkswagen rejecting the UAW’s role on its workers council.
But the documents, marked confidential, stated that the proposed incentives were “subject to works council discussions between the State of Tennessee and VW being concluded to the satisfaction of the State of Tennessee.”
Emails obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates also showed that Corker’s staff was in contact with anti-union activists and then shared that information with members of the Haslam administration who were in charge of the incentives.
UAW President Bob King explained the union’s motives in a statement.
"The purpose of the NLRB’s investigation is to determine the truth concerning the third-party interference in the February election at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant," he said.
"The NLRB’s rules call for the use of subpoenas as part of this truth-seeking exercise. The UAW hopes that all parties who receive subpoenas will fully comply by providing the NLRB with the requested documents and with their testimony."
Corker’s chief of staff, Todd Womack, reacted strongly to the news.
"After a stinging defeat, rather than respect the workers’ decision, the UAW is trying to create a sideshow," he said. "We’ve referred this matter to legal counsel. We hope other people who might be inclined to consider the UAW will take this development as a cautionary tale."
Haslam spokesman Dave Smith said, “It would be inappropriate for me to comment at this time.”