IG Metall Warns Against Yellow Union For Chattanooga VW Plant

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
ig metall warns against yellow union for chattanooga vw plant

While Volkswagen works to find a way to establish a works council at their Chattanooga, Tenn. plant in the wake of the failed United Auto Workers election and subsequent appeal to the National Labor Relations Board, German union IG Metall is warning against the establishment of what it calls a “yellow” union at the plant, or one that has been established by Volkswagen.

Just-Auto reports IG Metall international department director Horst Mund, though disappointed with the outcome of the UAW election, believes the only way to a works council is through unionization, while also warning against any diluted form of representation at the plant:

From my talks and contacts with unions in the US, I can tell there is scepticism against house unions. We have seen attempts throughout the world [when] yellow unions are installed. I am not saying Volkswagen is anywhere near contemplating this – on the contrary they are definitely not.

Regarding the UAW appeal, Mund says the fight “was never fair,” citing the outside interference alleged by the union in their appeal as the cause of their defeat, and supports the union’s appeal. He also found the entire controversy around the election absurd, especially with its “life [and] death” tone:

This is not about life and death. It is about simple choice.

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  • Tjh8402 Tjh8402 on Mar 06, 2014

    It’s not unheard of in other industries for different unions to represent the same workers, or even workers within a particular company only. For example, ALPA (Airline Pilots Association) is the AFL-CIO airline pilots union, but several airlines’ pilots have their own union just for pilots of that airline that is separate from ALPA. Allied Pilots Association, which is the AA pilots union, was actually an ALPA breakaway. US Air pilots also have their own union, the US Airline PIlots Association, and Southwest pilots are represented by SWAPA, the Southwest Airline Pilots Association. If, in fact, the vote was a rejection of the UAW in particular, and not unions in general, could another attempt be made at organization at the plant independent of the UAW?

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Mar 06, 2014

    What VW wants is the value of the workers feedback, which, I suspect the workers would be willing to give. Likely the value of having things run better and having influence in the company would be all the compensation the workers would want. They may also look for other rewards for the value of their input, but apparently, there is some problem with doing that in an auto plant under US labor law? Or, VW really wants the structure of the works council rather than something structured not to be illegal. Or, what I really think is the situation (and my biases are known here, though greatly exaggerated by a few) VW can't overcome both it's own institutional inflexibility AND the threat that a minority of workers will use UAW, other labor groups, and the government to create an expensive legal mess if VW does anything, even a suggestion box. Inflexibility of large companies is a natural issue they have, but the fact that our legal system lets malcontents help gum up the works is a shame.

    • Tedward Tedward on Mar 06, 2014

      Landcrusher That sounds pretty likely to me. Inflexibility (from the Germans? Never!) and fear of litigation (from a mega-corp? Never!)

  • Jimal Jimal on Mar 06, 2014

    I was just thinking of something that I haven't read mentioned in any of these discussions on the Chattanooga situation, and that is the UAW's fundamental conflict of interest. The last I checked, the United Auto Workers Union (or some subset thereof) still retains an ownership stake in both General Motors and Chrysler, as part of the auto bailouts in 2008-2009. How can they in good faith represent the workers in labor negotiations against companies of which they are de-facto competitors? Pch101, anyone, what am I missing here?

    • See 3 previous
    • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Mar 07, 2014

      @Lorenzo The UAW has more than just a seat on the BOD for VEBA. Back in Jan 2010 as part of the bailouts the UAW and Court picked the board members. From what I can gather the BOD of VEBA is skewed to favour the UAW.

  • CJinSD CJinSD on Mar 06, 2014

    So much for the argument that IG Metal wanted a union in TN because they believe unions are positive for workers. They want the UAW because it is a major step towards sending Chattanooga the way of Westmoreland. A union that doesn't have a job-killing record is of no benefit to IG Metal.

    • Carrera Carrera on Mar 06, 2014

      I am afraid that's exactly what's happening CJ. IG Metal is worried that Chattanooga could become too competitive. As simple as that. I like the red fist in the photo. Very " workers of the world unite!". Those guys in the crowd look like a bunch of overachievers. Lots of excited faces..