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VW Employees Dealing with New Union Tussle

Anti-UAW forces trying to set up new union for workers in Tennessee.

by on Aug.28, 2014

An anti-UAW worker at VW's plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is hoping to set up a competing union called the American Council of Employees.

The ongoing saga of the possible union representation of workers at Volkswagen’s assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, took another turn recently as one employee is attempting to form his own union at the plant.

Mike Burton, an hourly employee and an outspoken critic of the UAW, is collecting signatures to certify the American Council of Employees as the union to represent workers on the Works Council for the plant.

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Burton claims if the group can collect 500 signatures, it would be able to call for an election at the plant. He says 108 workers had signed up on the first day. If certified, it would be the first chapter of the union.

The UAW narrowly lost a union vote – 712 to 626 – at the plant in February in a contentious election. The union filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board, which has since certified the results and denied the UAW’s allegations.

However, the UAW has since established a local chapter, Local 42, aimed at gaining representation without another vote. Gary Casteel, secretary-treasurer of the UAW, told Reuters on Tuesday he does not see how Burton’s union stands much of a chance because VW and the UAW “have a consensus” that the company will recognize Local 42.

He added that the local has “substantially more than 700 members, so there are not many workers left for the anti-union union to pick up.” If that number is more than 750, it would have a simple majority of the workers at the plant, which employs about 1,500. Casteel declined to confirm the number.

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Volkswagen wants to create a works council to represent blue- and white-collar workers but can’t do so without an independent union. The company has them in place in all of its plants around the world, except Chattanooga.

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The employees must have a union, according to U.S. labor law, to be represented on a works council. VW has provided no resistance to the UAW’s organization efforts, in large measure, for this reason. The German-based company’s largest union, IG Metall, threw it support behind the UAW in the recent election.

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However, that support was countered by anti-union organizations and politicians, including Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who claimed the automaker would take work away from the plant if the UAW won the election. VW vehemently denied the claim and Corker backed away from the statements.

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One Response to “VW Employees Dealing with New Union Tussle”

  1. Jorge says:

    Corker backed away from his false claims after spewing false information to intimidate VW employees. He should have been convicted for this crime, IMO but of course he wasn’t. So now everyone at the plant and VW suffer from a talking heads abuse of power.