VW Labor Leaders Fight To Establish U.S. Works Council

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
vw labor leaders fight to establish u s works council

While the United Auto Workers take their battle to bring their brand of organization to Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. before the National Labor Relations Board, VW’s labor leaders are regrouping in their fight to establish a works council in the U.S. plant.

Automotive News reports two top officials from VW’s global works council, secretary generals Gunnar Kilian and Frank Patta, are in the United States for the next two weeks consulting with labor law experts as to what steps will need to be taken to establish a works council at the automaker’s Tennessee plant, an idea popular with a number of the plant’s workforce, especially those who voted to keep the UAW out of their floor during the three-day election held two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, UAW supporters believe a U.S. works council would need the legal force of a union contract for a council to work at all. A few options would include talking with a different union, moving forward without a union, or — as both U.S. Senator and former mayor of Chattanooga Bob Corker and American University professor Steve Silvia have suggested — establishing their own union.

Whatever the decision, future expansion into the U.S. market depends on a positive outcome; VW works council chairman Bernd Osterloh told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung that labor leadership would “hardly be able to vote in favor” of expansion by VW executives so long as Chattanooga remains unorganized.

Finally, the UAW has also vowed to fight for organization of the plant, filing a 58-page brief with the NLRB last weekend citing outside interference as reasoning for holding a new election. Dennis Williams, possible successor to the presidency of the UAW when outgoing president Bob King steps down in June, may have to wait a year before attempting to organize the plant again, but he doesn’t mind:

We’re not leaving Chattanooga. It took seven years to organize Ford, and I will be around for at least another five.

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3 of 45 comments
  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Feb 26, 2014

    Here's a simple idea! Why don't VW if it wants input from the floor hold a monthly or whatever schedule meeting of the workers and management to discuss how to make VW a better place to work. This would cover efficiency, work hours, even pay. VW can offer incentives for ideas that save the company money as well. The workers can do this without paying a red cent to any union. Not hard, this surely can't be illegal in the US, people talking.

  • FJ60LandCruiser FJ60LandCruiser on Feb 26, 2014

    Unions: bringing the incompetence, lack of accountability, and laziness of government workers into the private sector since the Industrial Revolution! VW has bent over for the UAW, they lost the election, now they're taking a page from the book of Joe Stalin to run crying to Obama's NLRB to hold another election because they were dissatisfied with the results of the first one. It's really shocking to no one how the UAW has become irrelevant to the point that they can't unionize any of the Southern car plants they've been trying to weasel into. BTW, I had an uncle who was a UAW worker. He was a fat, drunken slob who epitomized every union stereotype... and couldn't be fired. Who wouldn't want a model employee like that?

    • U mad scientist U mad scientist on Feb 26, 2014

      > BTW, I had an uncle who was a UAW worker. He was a fat, drunken slob who epitomized every union stereotype… and couldn’t be fired. Who wouldn’t want a model employee like that? Hot damn that job sounds hella more awesome than that temp 10/hr one honda's been filling with liberal-arts grads. Who wouldn't want to be employed like that?

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