The head of Germany’s metal worker union IG Metall, Berthold Huber, urged workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant to join the UAW. In a letter distributed to Chattanooga workers, obtained by Reuters, Huber says:
“In Chattanooga, you need union representation.”
“We strongly recommend that the eligible employees at Volkswagen, Chattanooga, decide that the UAW should represent them.”
Last week, Volkswagen’s HR chief Horst Neumann said Volkswagen is in talks with the UAW about setting up a German-style works council in Chattanooga.
Reuters sees Neumann’s comments as “about-face for an automaker that has resisted opening the U.S. plant to the UAW.”
However, it should be kept in mind that Neumann is a delegate of IG Metall, one of the strange twists of labor relations at large companies in Germany. Also however, if the IG Metall wants it, Volkswagen management most likely will not say no.
With Europe in trouble, and a free trade agreement with the U.S. and the EU on the horizon, German unions don’t want plants abroad to be too competitive.
In the meantime, IG Metall has come under strong criticism for its role in cutting a deal with GM over Opel. Workers at three Opel sites in Germany approved a plan that will end car production in Bochum after 2016, but will keep 1,200 jobs there. Who has not voted on the plan are the Bochum workers. They will vote tomorrow, after their works council chief Rainer Einenkel complained about “very strange and not really helpful” deals that would split the workers.