How The UAW Could End Up Representing Volkswagen Workers

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

Despite losing a vote on organizing workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant, the UAW could end up representing Volkswagen workers through its newly formed Local 42, with the end goal being the establishment of a works council at Chattanooga.

Local 42 was formed by the UAW as a voluntary union that workers could join. Representation for the workers would only come from a majority of them joining Local 42.

Now, Reuters is reporting that the UAW appears to be close to hitting the majority threshold needed for representing workers at Chattanooga, though the UAW wouldn’t give specific numbers. Also unclear was whether the UAW would be recognized as the exclusive bargaining unit for Chattanooga workers.

UAW secretary-treasurer Gary Casteel told Reuters that the two entities “have a consensus” on whether the UAW could exclusively represent workers, but a little reported development is likely to ensure that this goes through. Bernd Osterloh, VW’s global works council chief, was appointed to VW of America’s board of directors just over one month ago. Osterloh has been a major player in increasing cooperation between the UAW and IG Metall, Germany’s largest labor union, and has been fond of meddling in affairs at Chattanooga.

The establishment of a works council was previously held as a condition of VW’s supervisory board – which includes labor leaders and representation – approving the upcoming three-row crossover for production at Chattanooga. And for a works council to happen, workers need union representation. Who better to fill that role than the UAW?

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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  • Roader Roader on Aug 18, 2014

    And no doubt Bernie will return to a simple production line job once VW management withers away as VW workers achieve a utopian state of equality and cooperation. He'll probably be assigned the job of Under-The-Seat-Paper-Cup-Inserter. According to freetranslation(dot)com, in German that would be: Unter dem Sitz Pappbecher Kuvertiersystem His new position probably won't pay two thirds of a million bucks per year, though. No more free strudel...

  • Andrew Andrew on Aug 20, 2014

    I've owned not one but two Hyundai products built at the company's Ulsan plant in South Korea as well as one made at the non-union Montgomery, Alabama plant. In addition to being their largest plant with an annual capacity of around 1.3 million cars, SUVs, buses and heavy-duty trucks, the Ulsan facility is also represented by one of (if not the) most powerful and fractious labor unions in the world. Since the plant unionized in 1987, it has gone on strike every year except for four, a figure that would make even the proudest mid-70s UAW member blush. Both of the cars I've owned that came out of the factory gates at Ulsan have been flawless. The first was a 2004 Santa Fe and the second (current) is a 2012 Elantra. Both had nice, even paint jobs, flawless panel gaps, excellent attention to detail and no squeaks or rattles. Even at 48,000 miles, the Elantra remains rattle-free. The 2010 Santa Fe (a Montgomery alum) had one small issue go over-looked but nothing that can't be chalked up to human error. Now as far as Hyundai Corporate's attention to detail is concerned, that could leave much to be desired but as far as the people who put their cars together, unionized or otherwise, I have no complaints.

  • ManxSR ManxSR on Aug 24, 2014

    Screw the UAW... actually, they may be the death-nail in VW's coffin in America. VW build quality is still in the crapper.

  • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on Sep 04, 2014

    Local 42? Did they choose that number knowing it's the answer, or because they're hoping that infinite improbability will actually get them in the door?