No New Product For Chattanooga Unless Works Council Implemented

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

As Volkswagen gears up for a decision on expanding their Chattanooga factory, a member of Volkswagen’s supervisory board told the Handlesblatt that any new product would be contingent on VW adopting a works council ( explanation by our own veteran of Volkswagen BS here) for the plant.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press quotes board member Stephan Wolf as stating

“We will only agree to an expansion of the site or any other model contract when it is clear how to proceed with the employees’ representatives in the United States,”

At stake is a possible new crossover that could be built there or in a Mexican facility. Wolf, a labor leader, is Deputy Chairman of the General and Group Works Councils of Volkswagen AG, and a member of the all-important Supervisory Board, which is responsible for approving key corporate decisions. The remarks come on the heels of an endorsement of the works council from UAW head Bob King, who told Automotive News

“If I was a worker, if I was a member of the Chattanooga community, and I wanted to have the best chance of getting new investment and new product, I would want a voice on the world employee council,” King said. “I would want somebody there representing the interests of Chattanooga. I wouldn’t want a decision made where every other plant in the world has representation there, and I don’t have somebody speaking up for me.”

Both pro and anti union camps have a lot at stake; for VW’s German labor leaders fear that a non-unionized plant threatens to undermine their powerful organizations in Germany and other locales. The unions enjoy as many as 50 percent of the supervisory board seats according to German law, and can influence who holds top executive posts. That makes Wolf’s remarks all the more credible.

On the other hand, Tennessee politicians fear that a union will hurt their own image of being a “right to work” state where companies can set up shop away from the influence of organized labor. Further complicating matters is a law barring employers from starting their own unions. If a works council were to go through, workers at Chattanooga would have to be represented by the UAW – something that would be mutually beneficial to both the UAW and IG Metall, Germany’s largest labor union.

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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  • Michael S. Michael S. on Jun 25, 2013

    Am I the only one that sees the VW plant NOT having "representation" as a good thing? Yes, the other plants around the globe may have their unions. That doesn't mean they are beneficial to the factory or the workers. I know it's easy to play armchair CEO, but I would be more apt to give the new models to a plant that didn't require me to get permission from the workers to do a partial shutdown for retooling purposes.

    • See 2 previous
    • FirebombDetroit FirebombDetroit on Jun 25, 2013

      Competence doesn't require collective bargaining.

  • Yeah_right Yeah_right on Jun 25, 2013

    I don't follow how VW would be able to force their employees into a union in a right-to-work state any more than the UAW could.

  • Lou_BC Another way to look at this is the upgrading of hardware and software. ...............The average length of car ownership is 10 - 12 years ....................The average lifetime ownership of a cell phone is 2.5 years. ................................................................... My phone will remain up to date, my vehicle won't. Especially if you buy a new "end of run" model.
  • TheEndlessEnigma "...we could be seeing a foundational shift in how Americans and car buyers see Stellantis products." yeah, I view Stellantis products as being off the cross-shop list. Stellantis is doing an excellent job of killing the Chrysler and Dodge brands and turning Jeep into something it isn't.
  • 2manyvettes 495 hp in a base C8 is more than enough. 800+ hp in a ZR1 is not worth the extra $60k (plus dealer markups). Unless the buyer is going for bragging rights. I remember when the C7 Grand Sport came out, and a reviewer got his hands on one and put it on the track at Lime Rock. His conclusion? Save yourself $15k and skip the Z06 and get a Grand Sport.
  • MaintenanceCosts Last year, I rented a closely related Audi A3. The overwhelming impression was of cheap build quality, although the drive wasn't bad. It had ~45,000 miles and the sunroof sunshade and passenger side power window were already not working correctly. Lots of rattles, too.
  • Lou_BC As others have pointed out, some "in car" apps aren't good or you pay for upgrades. My truck did not come with navigation. It was an expensive option. There's a lame GM maps app that you need to subscribe to "in-car" data. The map does not give you navigation other than to tell you where restaurants and gas stations are located. I'd want Android auto since I already pay for the phone.