Politics & Government

Officials dispute Bevin’s claim about why Volvo didn’t choose Kentucky

Automaker Volvo and Swedish officials dispute Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s recent claim that Volvo refused to consider locating a production plant in Kentucky in 2015 because the state did not have a so-called “right-to-work” law at the time.

Insider Louisville reported Friday that a spokeswoman for the Embassy of Sweden denied Bevin’s claim that Ambassador Bjorn Lyrvall told the governor that Volvo would have set up shop in Kentucky if it had a law that allows employees to work in unionized workplaces without paying union dues. Also, Volvo Car USA denied that a right-to-work law was a requirement as it searched for locations.

“I sat next to the ambassador from Sweden a couple of weeks ago who told me Volvo wanted to be here,” Bevin said during his State of the Commonwealth Address. “Volvo could have been here, would have been here, had we been serious about passing right to work, had we shown any interest in them as a company with any real significance, they would have been here. Those are the kind of companies that want to see this.”

In a response to Insider Louisville, the ambassador’s spokeswoman, Monica Enqvist, said “there must be some kind of misunderstanding with regard to what the Ambassador said during his talk with Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky.”

Insider Louisville also reported that Volvo Car USA replied to a tweet about Bevin’s comments by saying “We have never confirmed which locations we considered, but a ‘right to work’ bill was not a requirement.”

Volvo broke ground on a factory in Berkeley County, South Carolina on Sept. 25, 2015. Production of the Volvo S60 is expected to begin there in late 2018. The company must invest $600 million and create 2,000 jobs by Dec. 31, 2023, in order to get more than $200 million in incentives from the state and county, according to The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C.

Bevin’s office did not respond to a request for comment, according to Insider Louisville.

Kentucky’s Republican-led General Assembly approved a “right-to-work” law last month over the loud protests of union workers. Bevin immediately signed it into law.

Gov. Matt Bevin discussed a proposed ban on mandatory union dues with a group of angry union workers in a hallway of the Kentucky Capitol Annex on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017.

Union workers chanted 'we are united' in the Kentucky Capitol Rotunda on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, as lawmakers prepared to pass bills placing limits on labor unions.

Gov. Matt Bevin celebrates on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, the passage of seven bills pushed by Republican lawmakers during the first week of Kentucky's 2017 General Assembly. It is the first time in Kentucky's history that a Republican governor will s