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U.S. Senator: UAW in Tennessee would be VW's 'biggest mistake'

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, has warned it would be one of Volkswagen AG's "biggest mistakes" to allow the United Auto Workers to represent workers at its Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant.

In its Monday edition, German business newspaper Handelsblatt quoted Corker as saying that while VW may be working successfully with other unions across the globe, the UAW would be the wrong partner.

"I think they are being very naïve to think that they can bring the German model, embrace the UAW and think it's going to be productive," Corker told the paper.

The senator has come out against any UAW influence over car plants in the South because he gives the union part of the blame for the demise of Detroit as the heart of U.S. auto production.

The UAW would like Volkswagen to voluntarily recognize the U.S. union as the best choice to represent the German automaker's workers at its Tennessee plant as it would give it toehold in organizing foreign-owned automakers in the U.S. South.

Volkswagen labor leaders and workers at the Tennessee plant are to meet this month to discuss the possibility of the UAW union representing them.

A win at VW would mark the UAW's first success at a major foreign automaker's plant in the conservative South.

That could alter the landscape in the U.S. auto sector, opening door to similar efforts at plants owned by Germany's Mercedes in Alabama and BMW in South Carolina, and possibly those owned by Japanese and South Korean automakers, analysts have said.

VW executives have said they were in talks with the UAW about the union's bid to represent workers.

In VW's home country of Germany, the IG Metall union has seats on the company's supervisory board.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger, editing by William Hardy)

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