UAW on Path to Represent Maintenance Workers at VW Chattanooga

Mark Stevenson
by Mark Stevenson

The United Auto Workers union could make its first real break into the southern U.S. by unionizing 165 “skilled trade” maintenance workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant, reported the Associated Press (via The Detroit News).

UAW Local 42 represents some workers at Volkswagen Chattanooga but does not have exclusive bargaining rights at the plant. A new election for union representation, which is being requested by maintenance workers at the plant, would give Local 42 exclusive bargaining rights for those workers.

The effort is part of a “renewed collective bargaining push” unrelated to the diesel emissions scandal, union officials told the AP.

The last election saw the UAW defeated in a 712-626 vote.

Since that vote, Local 42 states they have gained the membership of a majority of hourly workers at the plant and been recognized by Volkswagen as representing those workers, but still does not hold exclusive bargaining rights. According to the union, they represent a total of 816 workers at the plant, or 55 percent of total workers.

Chattanooga builds the Volkswagen Passat and is being upgraded to manufacture a new midsize SUV with production expected to start in 2016.

Mark Stevenson
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22 of 47 comments
  • CincyDavid CincyDavid on Oct 24, 2015

    Good grief...VAG should just shut the damn place down and sell it to Hyundai or somebody who is serious about North American markets. And don't get me started on the UAW...had a BIL who worked in the now-shuttered Chrysler plant in Fenton MO, and missed more than half his scheduled days the last year he worked there. The union protected this numbskull until he got caught selling meth IN THE PLANT and went away to the penitentiary in Fulton MO for 3 years. Protections are fine, but there is a limit. This meathead was still getting partial pay while he went on a year-long drug binge. Or how about the guys at the GM plant in Wentzville MO...long term shutdown, they still received 90% of their base pay for doing NOTHING. Several opened businesses, and made plenty of money while GM was still paying their wage, healthcare, etc. And don't get me started on the crybaby Teamsters I have worked with...tell them anything they don't want to hear, and their immediate answer is "talk to my steward". Bunch of whiners.

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    • RideHeight RideHeight on Oct 24, 2015

      @tonycd Bah... cheap crime show schtick. "Would it change your mind if you knew there was a witness?"

  • RideHeight RideHeight on Oct 24, 2015

    I'd join the union if they offered quality t-shirts. I'm talking heavy fabrics in a variety of colors and durable graphics that don't dry out and flake off from laundering.

  • Xeranar Xeranar on Oct 24, 2015

    Good for them, the fear of Unions is always an interesting one. Really, if our relationship with business wasn't so antagonistic we wouldn't need unions but businesses in the US have made it clear they have no intent in working in unison but would rather squeeze every penny, nickel, and dime out of the work force, leave them when they get sick, and forget them when they get too old to function then complain when they get taxed because the government has to pick up the tab for their misbehavior. VAG's diesel scandal is a big media frenzy but in practical terms to the company it's pretty small in the North American market mainly because they haven't been a big player here. But Chattanooga is going to remain open because VW will eventually get around to making a CUV of size that people want and Chattanooga will be a key facility to make it in.

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    • Xeranar Xeranar on Oct 25, 2015

      @tonycd Thanks tony. I was going to finally get around to replying because I saw this written hours ago on my phone and simply turned it off because it felt like it was getting petty. My analysis is pretty much the same one most of the people here acknowledge (i.e. VW is a large global maker but has little impact in the US/North American Market). So when the dieselgate shenanigans blow over and arguably they're going to blow over sooner rather than later in the US they'll be looking to take advantage of Chattanooga's large capacity to shill a mid-size/upscale compact CUV.

  • Scwmcan Scwmcan on Oct 24, 2015

    I have to wonder why you decided to put the term skilled trades in quotes, this implies that these workers are not actually skilled trades workers. In our plant at least these people are electricians, welders, pipe fitters, tool makers, and millwrights. I am pretty sure all these trades are included in the definition of skilled trades ( requiring an apprenticeship and recognition with their respective trade schools ( or whatever agency regulates the trades in their state). I don't think you are doing a service to the accuracy of you article by implying that these workers are not actually skilled trades ( now if these are the janitorial staff than you may have a point, but maintenance is generally the people who fix the robots and other machines on the line, they may not all be good, but they are part of what are generally described as the skilled trades). As for the people implying that all union workers are dope using idiots, I think you need to look at the reality of the current job market, maybe things are rosy where you live, but there are university and college graduates doing these jobs ( and much worse including working at McDonald's and Walmart ) because there are no other good paying jobs with some security ( though admittedly not much anywhere) in the area they work. If you really think that all Union workers are lazy, drug using, no ambition, layabouts, trying to milk the companies they work for out of every penny they make with no concern for the quality of the job they do, or the future of the company they work for, you really have no idea of what really goes on. Yes there are some workers like that ( as in any workplace, unionized or not, I should know I have worked in both, more in non-Union ). And they tend to be the ones who are vocal, but the average worker is like everywhere else, quietly doing the best job they can, trying to earn a decent living, and hoping that their job will still be there next month. I get really tired of all the garbage the anti Union side puts out ( and yes there is bs from the other side as well, but they generally don't tend to attack people who are just trying to make a decent living). Generalizing that all Union workers are crap is not fair to all the hard working Union workers out there.

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    • Pch101 Pch101 on Oct 25, 2015

      "Skilled trade" in this context is a "term of art." (Look that up if you aren't familiar with that.) In this case, it is referring to specialized line workers who have specialized capabilities, not just any guy on the line who is good at his job.