VW, UAW In Talks Concerning Chattanooga Plant Representation

TTAC Staff
by TTAC Staff
vw uaw in talks concerning chattanooga plant representation

Negotiations between Volkswagen and the United Auto Workers over the UAW’s possible representation of workers at VW’s Chattanooga, Tennessee assembly plant began last Friday, according to the German newspaper, the Handelsblatt and Automotive News. The newspaper also reported that UAW president Bob King and VW board member for human resources, Horst Neumann discussed the establishment of a German style “works council” to represent factory workers at the plant. VW and the UAW both declined comment.

VW likes the works council scheme, wherein both blue and white collar employees vote for representatives who work out labor conditions with company executives. The local works councils also elect representatives to a global council that has input into VW’s major business decisions, including product and production planning.

To satisfy U.S. labor law, which disfavors labor unions started by a company, if VW will have to negotiate with an outside labor organization if it wants to start a works council. Back in March, Neumann said that “the UAW would be the natural partner” for a works council at the Tennessee facility, acknowledging the UAW’s ties to IG Metall, the German labor union that represents most of VW’s workers in Germany.

Bernd Osterloh, the head of VW’s global works council was present for the UAW/VW talks, according to Handelsblatt. The talks come as VW evaluates the possible expansion of the plant’s capacity from 150,000 units to a half million. VW will likely build a new mid-sized 7 passenger SUV previewed in the CrossBlue concept, either assembled in Mexico or Tennessee.

If the UAW is certified to represent VW workers, it will likely not reverse the fortunes for the union, which has had difficulty organizing foreign-owned automotive assembly plants. Efforts to organize Mercedes-Benz and Nissan transplant operations have not been successful, but some progress with VW is possible.

“I don’t see it as a renaissance that will bring the U.S. labor movement back,” Steve Silvia, an American University professor and labor expert, said. “But seeing whether they can get their foot in the door — that might work. And given the plight of the U.S. labor movement, they don’t have too many other cards to play. So they might as well play this one.”

Only a single foreign owned car or light truck assembly operation in the U.S. is organized by the UAW, a Mitsubishi factory in Normal, Ill. that inherited UAW representation when the facility began as a joint venture with Chrysler.

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  • Billfrombuckhead Billfrombuckhead on Sep 05, 2013

    LOOK AT WHAT SOUTH KOREAN AUTOWORKERS ARE GETTING! WILL GEORGIA AND ALABAMA WORKERS GET ANY OF THIS? "If ratified, the new agreement will see workers getting a 5.14-percent raise in base salaries, along with 8.5-million-won (roughly $7,800) bonuses. Those concessions are a far cry compared to what the union was initially demanding, though. Early proposals included a 56.25-gram gold medal for each employee (worth about $2,400) and a 10-million won bonus (about $9,100) for employees whose children chose not to attend college. The union also sought a bonus worth two months' salary for workers that have been with the company for over 40 years, but this was negotiated down to a flat rate of six-million won ($5,464)." http://www.autoblog.com/2013/09/05/hyundai-union-reach-tentative-labor-deal/#aol-comments JapanInc's transplant factories had young workers and no legacy costs

  • Billfrombuckhead Billfrombuckhead on Sep 07, 2013

    One thing I hope the travails of the American car industry in the last decade or so has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt is how much good management matters. Compare boneheads like Bill Ford, Nardelli and Wagner to Marchionne and Mulally. Then there's crooks like Schrempf and Eaton. It's never been about the workers union or non union north south Chinese or Canadian, it's this despicable, decadent degenerate management class we have in America.

    • See 1 previous
    • Geeber Geeber on Sep 09, 2013

      William Clay Ford, Jr., was smart enough to step aside and make room for Alan Mulally to save the company. As the saying goes, "A wise man knows what he knows not." Given that Mr. Ford realized his own limitations and supported the man hired to take his place, I'd say that makes him a very smart person, in addition to a very gracious and humble one.

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