There’s Much at Stake for VW and UAW at Chattanooga Plant

by Jon LeSage, edi­tor, Used Car Mar­ket Report

Unit­ed Auto Work­ers and Volk­swa­gen AG are going through a tight squeeze in Chat­tanooga, Tenn.

That’s where 2,700 employ­ees will decide whether to bring in UAW rep­re­sen­ta­tion at VW’s Pas­sat sedan assem­bly plant.

VW has been more open than oth­er automak­ers about bring­ing in the first UAW union facil­i­ty to the south – but VW would pre­fer that its work­ers adopt some­thing sim­i­lar to its “works coun­cil” like the automak­er has in Ger­many that gives employ­ees a say in how the plant is run, but would keep the union out.

UAW has been talks with VW man­age­ment about set­ting up a work­ing coun­cil sim­i­lar to its Ger­man plants.

Employ­ees are more inter­est­ed in the union than usu­al, dri­ven in part by 500 con­tract work­ers being dis­missed by VW ear­li­er this year.

Eight work­ers have gone the oth­er direc­tion – get­ting the Nation­al Right to Work Foun­da­tion to file com­plaints with the Nation­al Labor Rela­tions Board for the work­ers who said they were mis­led by UAW on the elec­tion process.

UAW says a major­i­ty of the plant’s 2,700 work­ers have signed union cards show­ing inter­est in hold­ing the union elec­tion

The union wants to see worker’s bring in the union, and for the tide to turn toward UAW con­tracts being vot­ed in at oth­er “trans­plant” facil­i­ties in the south, such as a Nis­san assem­bly plant in Can­ton, Miss., and a Mer­cedes-Benz plant in Vance, Ala.

Work­ers in the south are mak­ing wage earn­ings sim­i­lar to union mem­bers work­ing at the Detroit 3 plants up above. But the union con­tracts would cost trans­plant automak­ers to pay more than they’re invest­ing in labor force now. Some ana­lysts say Detroit 3 would love to see UAW sign con­tracts down south.

There’ a lot at stake for VW — Ger­man automak­er count­ing on increas­ing sales in US, includ­ing its TCI clean diesel cars – to take No. 1 spot in glob­al sales.

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