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Corker says VW, others want healthy industry

Corker says VW, others want healthy industry

Posted: Friday, December 5, 2008 9:12 pm
By: AP

 

By JOE EDWARDS Associated Press Writer NASHVILLE (AP) — U.S. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said Thursday that auto companies such as Volkswagen and Nissan want a stable U.S. transportation industry. Corker, a Republican from Chattanooga, told Tennessee reporters during a conference call from Washington that companies such as Volkswagen, Nissan and Toyota “want to ensure that there’s a healthy auto industry.” “I don’t think any of the transplants are pulling for these (Big 3 U.S. automakers) to go bankrupt,” he said. Volkswagen, Europe’s largest automaker, is building a $1 billion assembly plant in Chattanooga with production projected to begin in 2011. Nissan’s U.S. headquarters are just south of Nashville and it has an assembly plant in Smyrna and an engine-building plant in Decherd. Corker is a member of the Senate Banking Committee, which heard testimony earlier Thursday from U.S. auto executives who want an expanded $34 billion rescue package. Corker said during the conference call that he’s unsure what will happen to the Big 3 next. “If we can figure out a way for these companies to do what would happen in bankruptcy, it might be workable, and make them in position to compete in a profitable way,” he said. “Unless GM, Ford and Chrys-ler are willing to do tough things, they are not going to be here in the future.” The automakers must win concessions from the United Auto Workers to endure, Corker said. As an example, he said the UAW is hiring at $15 an hour at the GM plant in Spring Hill, much less than at other plants. “These companies cannot exist with all the impediments they allow themselves to carry,” he said. He said executives share the blame with the union. “Management has made huge issues, taken on huge amounts of debt to cover mistakes they’ve made. They have so much debt now that they can’t survive.” Corker said the effect on the Volkswagen plant “depends on what happens with the supply chain. The fact is, having a healthy supply chain is important to all manufacturers.” Volkswagen spokeswoman Jill Bratina has said Volkswagen supports government financial help for the auto industry but in a way that treats “all investors in the U.S. market fairly. It should focus on all companies that have invested in creating jobs in this country.” Nissan has declined comment on the woes of the Big 3. Published in The Messenger 12.5.08

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