No matter which way the vote tilts this week in the UAW’s drive to organize Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, TN, assembly plant, it is unlikely there will be seismic swings in the U.S. auto industry’s wage scale and work practices or the union’s long-term viability.

The rhetoric portraying the vote as some sort of industry Armageddon hit a fever pitch this week heading into the scheduled Feb. 12-14 referendum, most of it emanating from political factions that fear unionization will have a chilling effect on new investment in the state.

On Monday, Republican state Sen. Bo Watson indicated he would vote against any future proposals for tax breaks on new investment if workers opened the door to the union. “I believe any additional incentives…for expansion or otherwise will have a very tough time passing the Tennessee Senate,” he is quoted as saying.

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker on Tuesday broke an earlier vow of neutrality, calling on workers to turn down unionization.

“The key to (the UAW’s) survival is to come down and organize plants in the Southeast,” the Republican says. “It’s about money and it’s about power.”

Billboards around Chattanooga depict the 60-year-old ruins of the Packard plant in Detroit and the warning, “Detroit: Brought to you by the UAW.” And detractors have been equating a vote for the union with a vote for gun control.

On the surface, the opposition’s strategy of damaging Volkswagen’s business case would appear counterproductive to the state’s goal of economic development and jobs growth. VW still has a chip to play in Tennessee as it firms up plans to build a new midsize CUV targeted for 2016, with Chattanooga the most logical target for new investment, unless the environment becomes hostile.

“This turns the conventional Republican ideology on its head,” Harley Shaiken, professor-labor relations for the University of California at Berkeley, says of the political opposition now facing the German automaker in Tennessee. “Normally, they’d say, let VW be VW.

“There could be legal issues for holding the plant hostage by threatening future investment,” he adds.

State Rep. Sherry Jones, a Democrat, calls Watson’s comments “an outrage.”

“The fact of the matter,” she says, “is that the (General Motors) plant in Spring Hill has had union representation for decades, and the only result has been a better working relationship between management and workers, resulting in higher productivity and better wages for employees.”

Volkswagen cited incentives, weather and logistics when it chose Chattanooga as the site for its new $1 billion factory over the two other finalists, Alabama and Michigan.

State and local governments reportedly kicked in $557 million in tax breaks and other spiffs, but VW executives told WardsAuto in 2008 they also factored in the likelihood of snow or tornadoes disrupting production, labor costs and availability of suppliers in making their decision.

The operation, which launched production of the Passat sedan in 2011, reportedly has generated 5,000 jobs in the region.