What TTAC readers have known for a while already, Germany’s Financial Times has realized: The UAW is trying to get its foot into the door of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant. Apparently, the UAW is banking on the fact that the plant is new, that Volkswagen is used to working with the unions, and most of all, that wages in Chattanooga are lower than at Daimler, BMW, Toyota and Honda. Financial Times Deutschland reports that a worker makes $14.50 an hour in Chattanooga, $19.50 after three years. Now the German Metal Workers Union IG Metall wants to help the UAW – by establishing a works council in Chattanooga.
That’s nice of them, but may not help the UAW a lot.
A works council is no union. A German works council is given substantial powers – in Germany. It must be consulted for hirings and firings. The works council represents workers vis a vis the management. However, to be effective, a works council must be rooted in law – in Tennessee, not in Wolfsburg. Without such a law, a Chattanooga works council would be nothing more than a social club.