So far, the United Auto Workers has fallen short of its goal of organizing a foreign “transplant” factory in the U.S., but that hasn’t stopped the organization’s efforts. Current UAW president Bob King has repeatedly said the union has no future if it cannot successfully organize a foreign-brand plant in the Southeast. To that end, discussions continue between the UAW and Volkswagen about the creation of a collaborative labor board at VW’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant, which currently builds the Passat midsize sedan, and may build an upcoming seven-passenger midsize SUV.
VW is reportedly open to talking with King and the UAW because of the existence of so-called “work councils” at VW’s plants in Germany, in which representatives from the factory workers collaborate with plant management on compensation, benefits and work rules. VW sees potential value in the creation of a work council at the Chattanooga plant to have a closer pulse on worker morale and sentiments.
However, VW board member Horst Neumann, who oversees human resources matters for the company, stressed that the company was not obliged to unionize the plant, since Tennessee is a right-to-work state, and said he was unsure what King’s motivations were in this process, if the UAW was truly interested in a work council arrangement or simply wanted to get its foot in the door for traditional full union representation. However, U.S. labor law requires that a union be involved in the formation of any sort of management/employee labor board.
The United Auto Workers has had conversations and has established ties with Germany’s IG Metall, the labor union which represents the majority of VW’s factory work force in Germany.
Source: Automotive News (subscription required)