By on October 2, 2013

2012-volkswagen-passat-front-three-quarters-chattanooga

The head of Volkswagen’s Works Council may soon be paying a visit to workers at Chattanooga to discuss the prospect of a works council. Reuters reports that Bernd Osterloh will be headed down south for a “dialogue” about representation. The UAW will not be present at the talks, but representatives of both VW and IG Metall, Germany’s largest labor union, will be in attendance.

Despite the UAW’s absence, the union and IG Metall have their respective ties, with UAW head Bob King acting as IG Metall’s labor representative on Opel’s supervisory board. The meeting is also occurring as the anti-union camp digs in its heels with a campaign aimed at thwarting the UAW’s organization drive.

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69 Comments on “VW’s Labor Leader To Meet With Chattanooga Workers...”


  • avatar

    Sounds a lot like a civilizing mission. To convert the recalcitrants.

    • 0 avatar
      mr.cranky

      My question is, why do people on here care so much about what the workers in TN do?

      It’s their choice, whether they want to be part of a Works Council or not.

      It doesn’t affect me (I don’t buy VW products) and I certainly don’t care otherwise. Ditto for any automaker that uses UAW labor.

      So my question is B&B, why the disdain for any form of unionization? Why care so much when it’s not your job, etc?

      • 0 avatar
        Brian E

        “My question is, why do people on here care so much about what the workers in TN do?”

        Because it’s not just between them and Volkswagen, and you know better. The government is intimately involved in every step of the process. That makes it a matter of policy.

        • 0 avatar
          Yeah_right

          Because I moved away from the unioni-corrupted midwest and now live in TN, and work in a large non-union plant that has the freedom to reward good employees and terminate bad ones – two outcomes a union ceases. I have 10 years until retirement and don’t want UAW or any of their ilk within 100 miles. I saw what the USW did to big steel.

      • 0 avatar
        HerrKaLeun

        the unions bribe (=contribute ot campaigns of) politicians who make laws in their favor. Those laws also affect me. For example chicken tax, tire tax etc.

        it is the goal of unions to have all states to be forced-union states. so my place of employment at some time could be turned into a union shp and I would be forced to become a union member.

        It would be ignorant to think we are bystanders only. IF we were ignorant, we woudl allow Pandas to be killed (since we are not Pandas), and our neighbor’s children molested (since these are not our children).

        If we let TN, VW or any other state or manufacturer slip, we all could end up again with UAW dominance as 50 years ago when Japanese cars have import limitations, and most cars you buy fall apart within 5,000 miles.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came_…

        I’m not agaisnt union. but against forced union as it is the law in most norhtern states.

        I hope VW workers are not so stupid to fall for this. what iti isa ll about is more power and money to the UAW,. and the German IG Metall wants non-German plants to be less competitive. the german works council does not care about the TN worker (and vice versa).

        • 0 avatar
          Slave2anMG

          “the unions bribe (=contribute ot campaigns of) politicians who make laws in their favor. ”

          Which is no different than Big Business bribing politicians to make laws in THEIR favor. Don’t make it sound like unions are the only ones doing this…that’s utterly disingenuous.

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            In the immortal words of George Carlin.

            “Its a big club and you ain’t in it!”

          • 0 avatar
            HerrKaLeun

            where exactly did I say unions are the only ones bribing? I’m equally as disgusted by lobbying by big corporations (and the fact they can deduct their contributions from their taxes, therefore forcing me to pay for it indirectly)

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            It’s easy to not do business with Big Businesses whose politics you disagree with. It’s a lot tougher to do that with your job.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    TTAC Staff/Derek, doesn’t Pinterest have one of those fruity gif logos?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    ” but representatives of both VW and IG Metall, Germany’s largest labor union, will be in attendance.

    Despite the UAW’s absence, the union and IG Metall have their respective ties, with UAW head Bob King acting as IG Metall’s labor representative on Opel’s supervisory board.”

    Conflict of interest a bit, Bob?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      How would representing IG Metall’s position at Opel create a conflict with the workers at Volkswagen?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The article isn’t clear which union Osterloh represents, but assuming it’s IG Metall (why else would they attend) I see a conflict of interest between King representing them in Europe, and they pushing for the works council in the first place. I cannot imagine IG Metall is completely adverse to US law on the matter, someone knew an established union would have to be brought into Chattanooga in order for the works council to be legal. There is no evidence to prove collusion, but it certainly seems convenient.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “The article isn’t clear which union Osterloh represents”

          He’s on the German works council.

          “I cannot imagine IG Metall is completely adverse to US law on the matter, someone knew an established union would have to be brought into Chattanooga in order for the works council to be legal.”

          So you think that following the law is illegal?

          It would violate the Wagner Act to have a company union. The UAW doesn’t give the impression of being a company union.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            My point is IG Metall knows this, and Bob King president of UAW, just happens to represent IG Metall for Opel in Europe. Could be just a coincidence but it doubt it. If UAW fails to being on new membership its only a matter of time before it begins to die out. Representing Chattanooga injects new life into a dying union.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “My point is IG Metall knows this, and Bob King president of UAW, just happens to represent IG Metall for Opel in Europe. Could be just a coincidence but it doubt it.”

            Of course, it isn’t a coincidence.

            The UAW has openly pitched the workers to join the UAW.

            IG Metall has recommended to the workers that they join the UAW.

            Webster’s defines “collusion” as “secret cooperation for an illegal or dishonest purpose.” It obviously ain’t no secret.

  • avatar
    Sceptic

    German works councils are designed so bigwigs and line workers can get together to make a better product. Contrast to UAW’s stated goal of squeezing all they can from employers. Very different philosophies.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      Sceptic, you are confused. The European works councils are not about making a better product, they are concerned with bargaining at the local level and as you put it “squeezing all they can from employers”. They are designed to give economic power to the workers.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      “To make a better product?” So I guess VW bigwigs don’t meet very often with their work councils.

  • avatar
    mike1dog

    Didn’t the works council make more production at the plant contingent on it having a works council? I know some people dislike unions, but since Tennessee is a right-to-work state, I’d guess even if the plant is organized you wouldn’t have to join.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      Edit: yeah, the Works Council said they would block production expansion unless a works council was put in place in Chattanooga.

      If a union is formed and you don’t join because you don’t have to in Tennessee, you’re still kind of goofed up because you wouldn’t have influence on the local works council. If the union puts something to a vote, you can’t vote, because you’re not in the union. Now you’ve got decisions being made that you can’t influence. Worse, if only a minority of people join the union, then a minority of people will be setting direction that affects all the line workers.

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        You would also not have to pay union dues.

        Though if it was me i would join the union. I wish my work place was unionized. It’s a life saver sometimes and protects your from over zealous management. It’s a good buffer and it does result in better pay in my experience for the workers. So whats not to like?

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          “It’s a life saver sometimes and protects your from over zealous management.”

          But who will protect you from an over-zealous union?

          A union can provide protections to workers who deserve it, or they can provide protections for workers who don’t deserve it. (Workers smoking dope & drinking during lunch? Does their bad behavior make a worse environment for you? Tough.)

          A union may improve wages, but if they decide to strike, all the raises they get for you will never pay back those lost wages.

          Unions do have their place, but they aren’t a universal good thing.

      • 0 avatar
        Brian E

        “Worse, if only a minority of people join the union, then a minority of people will be setting direction that affects all the line workers.”

        As opposed to a non-union shop, where none of the workers on the line will be setting that direction?

  • avatar
    Robbie

    This UAW story will end with employees without High School diplomas making $100,000 or more for simple manual labor. Then plant closure, and production in Mexico.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      This is just silly. Demonstrate where this has ever happened, anywhere. Provide names and reference sources, please.

      • 0 avatar
        Sceptic

        It does happen. Not every UAW worker gets six figure salary, but UAW wages are definitely higher than industry average. Add in the benefits and your average line worker is no worse off than a college professor.

        You can’t deny the obvious. Quote:

        “One blue-collar Delphi worker interviewed by the Detroit News makes $103,000 a year operating a forklift and fears the consequences if his pay is drastically reduced. But many Americans will ask how a forklift operator felt entitled to a six-figure income in the first place (according to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average forklift operator wage in the U.S. is $26,000). ”
        http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070924073107AAuGk8O

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          What I found really amazing about that story was that the $103,000-a-year forklift operator was still in financial trouble!

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Its really common. There are countless stories in Alberta where guys working the rigs making 200k+ annually literally don’t have a pot to p in and cant qualify for a mortgage.

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            Auto worker makes 34.50 an hour X 40 hrs =$1380 a week X 52 =$71,760.

          • 0 avatar
            rnc

            My wife (departed), worked for a man who sold insurance exclusively to doctors (he had a special plan b/t the AMA and the Ins. Co that allowed him to offer disability at in insane discount that no one could match). You would be amazed at the number of doctors in thier 50′s making high 6, low 7 figures without any savings or retirement (and I mean literally, a few grand in savings and 0 retirement), basically one paycheck away from losing everything, trying to purchase $50k/month disability policies (all you needed was one doctor to say you were disabled and the policy kicked in) that had to be rejected because it was obvious they were trying to fund thier retirement off of the policy (They had until they were 64 and 354 days to become disabled (fall off a step ladder, etc) and policy paid out for the remainder of thier life).

        • 0 avatar
          mikey

          Its called “overtime”.

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        ROFLMAO!!!

      • 0 avatar
        carveman

        Detroit. No need to provide any further information

    • 0 avatar
      Conslaw

      I’d rather pay a guy $100,000 for working in a factory 50 hours/week than Pay somebody $2,000,000 for deciding what grade of plastic is necessary on a steering wheel; or even worse, for selling band mortgage derivatives to my pension fund.

    • 0 avatar
      mr.cranky

      Geez Robbie, you been drinking the right-wing kool-aid again? (I say this because it’s common for conservatives to attack unions, no matter what type of union it is)

      Thankfully, few if any of us were alive in the days before unions when automakers, etc could set an ungodly number of hours, no breaks, low pay and child labor. I’m amazed that there are still people in this country who want to go back to the “good ‘ol days”. Baffling. It’s called regression.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Thankfully we now have workplace health and safety laws that make the unions role largely redundant in this area. This is not 1922, in case you have not noticed.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          We don’t have a union, and management treats people fairly. Unbelievably, many people are good and generally care about others, and perhaps even more unbelievably, some of those people are in management.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      In NY they make $400k per year:
      http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/02/carnegie-hall-opening-gala-canceled/?_r=0

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    He’s also meeting with Governor Haslam today.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I do think that the UAW is losing it’s influence. They are having problems finding willing converts.

    Why else would they allow a foreign representative to come over and preach and convert.

    The outcome might not be what the union(s) want. This could end up being a bad piece of PR for them.

    Like I stated, unionism is like religion.

    Don’t send missionaries from overseas to try and convert. How do we feel when Seventh Day Adventist, Mormons come knocking at our door?

    If the workers don’t want any union, someone should tell these religious (unionist) zealots to pi$$ off and go back to the motherland and not door knock in their neighbourhood.

    Let the people who want to part with part of their income to some union/religious group do so.

    But the ones that don’t, just let them go to work.

    • 0 avatar
      mr.cranky

      I find it troubling that you compare the organization of unions to the role of religious missionaries.

      Are you aware that workers have a vote and can choose whether or not to unionize?

      It isn’t ever forced upon workers. If they don’t want it, it doesn’t happen.

      You make it sound like workers have no choice but to unionize. That is not and will not ever be the case!

      • 0 avatar
        Silvy_nonsense

        “It isn’t ever forced upon workers. If they don’t want it, it doesn’t happen.”

        Um…not quite, it’s majority rules, not unanimous decision. If 51% vote to unionize, then 49% of the employees just had unionism forced upon them. Depending on what state this happens in, the people who don’t want to join can be required to join and pay union dues and they have no recourse other than to quit and seek employment elsewhere. That sounds pretty forced to me.

        • 0 avatar
          Ar-Pharazon

          What’s wrong with taking a dose of the same medicine the anti-union crowd usually recommends?

          If you don’t want to work in a unionized shop, quit.

          If you don’t want to live in a non-Right to Work state, move.

          Problem solved.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          I always find that anti-union views tend to become anti-democratic pro-elite views when pressed. They all tend to hate how a simple majority which is how we elect our president, congress, and most of our state and local officials is too low a threshold to ask for group representation in our work places. Worse yet they seem to want to defer to the management who may or may not think of the worker due to some odd love affair with capital.

          I understand the off chance you get rich and then who wants that yoke? But lets be realistic, the odds are stacked against you, unionism offers atleast a modicum of protection. In an odd way we’re very likely to see unionism rebound as Gen Y gains dominance and drives out the aging white working class from US politics over the next 20 years.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Or Gen Y will simply continue to be increasingly slapped around by the encroaching social disintegration that the aging white working class has tried so hard to prevent to the accompaniment of your ilk’s mockery and condemnation.

            By their 50s Gen Y will likely be just more sullen, seething frustration monkeys smelling as bad as everyone else in the entitlement lines. At that point diversity may not seem such a panacea to y’all.

            BTW, I’d check your use of “working class”. Traditionally it has not included college-educated professionals whereas the social strata you’re fond of tilting at most certainly do.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @mr.cranky
        If Utah had a majority of Mormons, would they have the right to say everyone who lives in Utah have to be Mormons?

        Then fork over part of your income to support them and support their beliefs.

        Imagine having states that allow a union to set up and if you want to work for any organisation that is unionised you have to be a union member.

        My argument is; if you want to be a part of a union, let the people be unionists. The ones that don’t want any part of the union, let them work under the same roof as the union members.

        But if the unionist only work to restrictive work practices and aren’t a large an asset as a non-union worker and the time comes for pay, job loss, etc. Then the company has every right to keep the better assets.

        I believe in freedom, something the union movement doesn’t support. And that is a global union position.

        Unions support what is termed in Australia “Closed Shops”. I don’t have to support or believe in that. But if I want to earn a living I should be allowed to work anyplace I want.

        Just like religion, if I want to be a Jedi, I have every right, no one is going to tell me to be a Mormon.

        • 0 avatar
          Onus

          We call them closed shops here too. The northeast is all that way. The south is mostly right to work and the midwest.

          The funny thing is Michigan is right to work these days. Go figure.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          I’m pretty sure Utah DOES have a majority of Mormons.

        • 0 avatar
          mr.cranky

          I just said that if you don’t want an union, then don’t sign a card. Talk to your friends. I don’t care. It’s your workplace, not mine.

          I have had nothing but negative experiences with the majority of management that I have dealt with since I started working at the age of 18. I am 32 now. I have been part of an union at least once and I liked it.

          My fellow employees chose not to unionize. I respect that. I don’t respect them less for it. We have better management now. I’m just wondering how long it will last. Nothing good ever lasts.

          Case in point, I had a job over 5 years ago that had a great supervisor, strong department and great workers. You know what happened? The bitch of a manager decided that she would lay off my supervisor, the head maintenance guy and 2 other custodians. Why? Because the company didn’t sell as many teddy bears and pajamas as they wanted.

          They didn’t cut the moronic upper management. They went after the low-hanging fruit, the most loyal employees they had ever known. If I hadn’t quit, I most certainly would have been laid off eventually.

          By the way, I am deaf and we don’t get treated fairly anywhere we work. The majority of deaf people are on SSDI. I choose to work instead. Sometimes, I wish I would just quit and settle for SSDI because no one ever wants to follow the ADA, signed into place by George H.W Bush of all the fucking people.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        Actually, unions want to do away w/ confidential voting and use “card check” to unionize. That way they can intimidate workers..

        Unions in action: Carnegie Hall canceled because union calls strike where their members make $400k.

        For STAGE HANDS:
        http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/02/carnegie-hall-opening-gala-canceled/?_r=0

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          I would point out every case in front of the NLRB and in most state courts the corporation is one usually intimidating because once a card check happens they usually have a few weeks before the actual vote so corporations usually apply pressure. In other words: Unions don’t intimidate, the multi-billion dollar company does.

          But you’re predispositioned to maintain your belief in the face of facts and reality. Worse yet you’re a populist bought and sold by the corporate right-wing.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Eeeee.. Preachy child! I just want to hug you and tousle your hair!

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “Unions don’t intimidate”

            Too hilarious a notion to even bother countering.

            OK, maybe a little. Ever try and cross a picket line? Their entire business model is based on intimidation.

          • 0 avatar
            thornmark

            >> Xeranar

            Actually, there is no basis in reality for your position.

            None. And the unions know that because they want the card check to actually replace confidential voting so they can maximize their well known intimidation efforts.

          • 0 avatar
            mr.cranky

            @Xeranar- My current employer decided to put out a bunch of flyers with overblown claims about how much one would pay in union dues, etc.

            They seemed to work because no one wanted to unionize afterward.

            See?

            It’s that easy to mislead people into going against their own best interests.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            I didn’t know 29 was a child still, I don’t what I’ll tell my colleagues at the University. There is zero support for the unions as aggressors claim. Your best example is the AK steel picket line and another incidence involving AK Steel, both isolated, both were after unionization, and both failed at their affective goal. But there are at least two dozen accounts of corporate intimidation from just the last few years and those are just the ones that reach complaint status.

            Card check is derided because it is simple democracy. If you dislike the democatic system perhaps you should move to a dictatorship?

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    If you really hate unions as much as the self-proclaimed B&B here claim, make sure you never attend a pro sporting event. The NFL and MLB have powerful players’ unions, and you don’t want to put money in their pockets. Don’t use the post office, they’re union… wait, you”re already working on killing that institution. Don’t buy any European car. Don’t watch a movie produced with union camera and production people. Oh, and don’t accept weekends off or vacations with pay. Those were union ideas, too.

  • avatar
    grinchsmate

    Im not American so can someone tell me if I’ve got this right.

    Some states have a “right to work” and this means a worker chooses whether or not to join a union. Other states have “no right to work”? so a workplace can be either unionised or not. If it is unionised everyone is compelled to join the union. For a workplace to become unionised a simple majority of workers must vote in favour. And now I’m not sure, if a majority of workers in “no right to work” state do not wish to join a union is unionism in that workplace banned?

    If that is right then this is my position.

    As I understand it Americans have a constitutional right to freedom of assembly. Doesn’t that imply a right to freedom from assembly? If so then the only argument for “no right to work” is that a worker is free to quit their job and so not be part of the assembly. This argument falls down as withdrawal of employment is a form of coercion and removes the freedom part of the freedom of assembly.

    I would also note that the US has adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UDHR explicitly states that “No one may be compelled to belong to an association” and “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment”.

    I couldn’t care less if anyone else joins a union just don’t make me join.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian E

      It’s way more complicated than that. I’ll try to make it simple without screwing it up.

      The federal Wagner act stipluates that companies must negotiate with a union chosen by a majority of workers in “good faith”. The NLRB, a federal agency, mediates these negotiations, and prevents companies from just firing the workers that want to unionize and replacing them. The NLRB has held that an unconditional, non-negotiable demand for a closed shop is a good faith negotiating position, and thus if the union demands it (which always happens), the company must accept it.

      On the other hand, the Wagner act allows states to ban closed shops if they choose. In those “right to work” states, a company can’t legally accept a closed shop provision in an agreement with a union, and thus the union can’t demand it.

      Note that in both cases, the freedom of association of the employer has been violated. In non-right-to-work states, the federal government tells the employer that they must hire only union employees. In right-to-work states, the state government tells the employer that they can’t hire only union employees. In neither case does the employer get to freely choose who she wishes to give her money to.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Without worrying about the fine details, yes, your summary is accurate. A “right to work” state is one that has laws that do not require an employee to join a union if he does not want to.

      The right to assembly (or not assemble) is not exactly applicable. Rather, a closed shop is more like a company policy–for example, you either accept that you will follow the rules (such as attending safety meetings, etc.) or you choose to not work there. The philosophical problem I have is that a closed shop can require dues or excessive actions (such as strikes), which IMO is an undue burden on those who disagree with the union. I dislike that a union may use those dues in ways counter to the desires of the worker (e.g., political contributions). I don’t like it when a company makes an employee pay for his safety shoes, office supplies, tools, software, etc., and that’s essentially how I see a closed shop’s requirement for paying for representation.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    You know, unless VW gets its head out of its ass in terms of its product and product mix here in the states, it isn’t going to matter what union is going to represent the workers because there won’t be any workers to represent…

  • avatar
    udman

    If this succeeds, then who knows how far IG Metall will influence other “German” transplants here in North America, and that is the reason why Southern Politicians are so against this. The Alabama Mercedes-Benz plant, and the South Carolina BMW plants would be the next visible targets, as AG Metall could simply shut down their respective (German) home plants if provoked.

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    As I understand it VW wanted to have a works council in the plant,probably a decent idea, not that there were any know serious issues between labor and mamagement.

    Under US law apparently a compoany cannot form an internal company works council, there must be outside union represenatation. This sia an old law to protect unions and prevenat plantrs avoiding having unions by talking directly to the shop floor and its representatives.
    Or at least that was the position of IG union controlled VW germany.

    VW without trying to have an internal works council and even seeing whther the law requiring a union was relevant then apporached the UAW to reperesent the plant. Employess were asked the the UAW to sign a piece of papoer as to whther they were intereted in hearing more about the union. I imagine open minded people signed yes.

    The UAW then claimed these signed pieces of paper as a vote of over 50% to have union representation. The employess have now countered that this was not avote and union misrepresentation about what they were signing and are asking for a closed ballot on whther to have a union or not.

    because the vote will almost certainly be not to have aunion VW and I g metall are doing their best to avoid the vote.

    BTW is this not the same company that had to close its plant in pensylvania because of union activity and crappy products which then opened in Tebnsess where we haver a healthy non union auto industry.

    Its also the same dumbshit company that americanised its products with cheap interiors and beam axles, thereby eliminating the reason why we buy german cars.


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