Fox News figures covered up controversial tactics by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who falsely promised that Volkswagen would reward workers at a Chattanooga plant with a new SUV production if they voted against unionizing.
On February 14, the Volkswagen AG plant in Chattanooga, TN voted against joining the United Auto Workers union by a vote of 712 - 626. Fox News' America's News HQ reacted to the vote by calling it a "major win for Republicans like Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee who say unions just would push away auto manufacturers." Fox then aired comments from Corker who claimed, "How many companies from South Korea or Japan or Germany, how many of them do you think make a stop in Detroit to look at locating there? None. Not a one. And it's because of the culture that the UAW's largely contributed":
But what Fox omitted from its report is that Corker is at the center of controversy for this advocacy against the union. On February 13, the day before the vote was scheduled to take place, Corker claimed that if the workers of the Chattanooga plant rejected the union, Volkswagen would "reward the plant with a new product to build":
Corker has long been an opponent of the union which he says hurts economic and job growth in Tennessee, a charge that UAW officials say is untrue.
"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," said Corker, without saying with whom he had the conversations.
But Corker's claim was immediately rebuffed by Volkswagen, who had remained neutral and even "tacitly endorsed the union." In a statement released following Corker's comments, the company stressed that unionization would have no impact on its decision about where to build the new product, saying "There is no connection between our Chattanooga employees' decision about whether to be represented by a union and the decision about where to build a new product for the U.S. market." None of this information was presented in Fox's report.
Corker's comments were not only false -- according to labor historian Michael Honey, who was quoted by the Daily Beast, his actions could have violated the Wagner Act, which regulates union elections:
Honey says he believes that Corker and other pols "are probably violating the Wagner Act." That 1935 law set the basic conditions under which a union election can take place, later amended in 1947's Taft-Hartley. It's not completely clear whether local politicians, rather than management, can be found guilty of violating the labor law in such a way that a new election must be ordered.
Reuters also quoted labor professor Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt, who said he was "really kind of shocked at Corker's statement" and noted that the senator might have been "interfering to the point that it is against federal labor law":
National Labor Relations Board expert Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt, who is professor of labor at the University of Indiana-Bloomington, said Corker was trying to intimidate workers into voting against the union.
"I'm really kind of shocked at Corker's statement," said Dau-Schmidt. "It's so inconsistent with what VW has been saying and VW's labor relations policy in general."
The Indiana professor also said Corker's comments "would be grounds to set the election aside and have to run it all over again at a later date" because it could be ruled to be interfering to the point that it is against federal labor law.