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UAW Gains Foothold in VW’s Chattanooga Plant

Skilled trades team votes to join union.

by on Dec.07, 2015

The UAW gained a foothold in the South after the skilled trades group voted to join the union.

After years of trying, the United Auto Workers won a breakthrough representation election at the Volkswagen AG plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, when workers in the skilled trades voted to join the union, putting a crack in the nonunion wall around the transplants in the Southern United States for the first time.

In an election spanning two days last week, 152 of the 164 skilled trades’ employees, such as electricians and millwrights, cast ballots in the election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB said 71% of employees – 108 – voted for recognition by UAW Local 42.

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The vote came nearly 20 months after the union was narrowly defeated in an election involving all hourly employees at the plant. VW intends to appeal the result, claiming any vote should have included all 1,450 hourly manufacturing employees, not just the skilled trades. The skilled trades unit comprises roughly 11% of the plant’s hourly workforce. (more…)

UAW Raises VW Chattanooga Membership to 55 Percent

Union making inroads to gain more influence.

by on Apr.30, 2015

An employee at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant signs on the dotted line allowing the UAW to represent her. (Photo credit: UAW)

The United Auto Workers moved another step closer to its goal of organizing workers at the Volkswagen of America assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The UAW said in a new filing with the U.S. Department of Labor that 816 employees have now voluntarily joined the union. The 816 represent about 55% of the plant’s blue-collar. The filing, coupled with the upheaval on the VW’s board of supervisors, increases the chances the automaker will raise its level of recognition of the UAW contingent at the plant.

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Berthold Huber, the new chairman of VW Supervisory Board, is a lifelong trade union activist who actively supported the UAW during its recognition election last year. The election ended in a narrow defeat for the UAW, which since then has continued its organizing drive with the assistance of Huber and other German union leaders. (more…)

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. (more…)

UAW Withdraws Appeal of VW Chattanooga Plant Vote

Major setback for union’s Southern organizing drive.

by on Apr.22, 2014

UAW President Bob King.

The United Auto Workers Union has withdrawn its objections to the results of the in February’s representation election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The union had narrowly lost a vote it fully expected to win and blamed the defeat on political interference by Republicans in Tennessee.  Over the years, the UAW has lost a series of representation elections in the Southern United States, where  aversion to unions is strong, so the defeat in Chattanooga came as a major setback to its so far unsuccessful bid to organize foreign-owned, so-called transplant, assembly lines.

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The union decision to withdraw  its protest to the National Labor Relations Board opens the door  for the UAW to call for another election at the Chattanooga plant early next year. The union made it plain in its statement that it will continue its campaign to bring VW workers in Chattanooga into the UAW.

(more…)

Corker Warns Against Silencing Politicians

NLRB investigating UAW claims about inappropriate influence.

by on Feb.27, 2014

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker said the NLRB could set a bad precedent if it finds in favor the UAW's objection to the election results at Volkwagen's Chattanooga, Tenn. plant.

While some feel that U.S. Sen. Bob Corker was less than truthful when he said that Volkswagen would build a new SUV at its plant in Tennessee if workers voted against UAW representation there, he may never have been more honest today.

“I probably am ‘Public Enemy No. 1′ to the UAW,” Corker (R-Tenn.) told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor this morning. “There’s no doubt there is some pent up anger towards me.”

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VW workers at the plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., that builds the Passat voted 712 to 626 to reject the UAW representation in creating a German-style works council. (more…)

Volkswagen Talking with Union about Works Council in Tennessee

Group provides input into plant policy, but doesn’t negotiate contracts.

by on Sep.06, 2013

Workers at the new VW plant in Tennessee may get a voice in plant policies through a new "works council."

Despite intense pressure from the Tennessee’s Republican establishment to keep the union out Volkswagen has opened discussions with the United Auto Workers about establishing a German-style “works council” at its Tennessee assembly plant.

The talks with the UAW revolve around “the possibility of implementing an innovative model of employee representation for all employees,” according to the letter, which was released to the media in Chattanooga.

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The letter is signed by Frank Fischer, the plant’s chairman and CEO, and Sebastian Patta, the facility’s vice president for human resources. (more…)

UAW May Get Chance for Vote at VW Plant

Move could prove critical for union’s future.

by on Apr.05, 2013

Workers at the new VW plant in Tennessee may soon vote on union representation.

The United Auto Workers appears to be edging closer to an up or down vote on union representation at the new Volkswagen AG manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee thanks to support from the German Metal Workers union, IG Metall.

IG Metall representatives at Volkswagen, including a member of the company’s supervisory board, have come out in favor of United Auto Workers representation in Chattanooga in a letter that was distributed to workers at the U.S. plant. Union representatives sit on the supervisory boards of German companies and have a critical role in setting company policy.

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With VW’s top American executive also showing a willingness to consider a union bid this could be a breakthrough moment for the struggling union. It has seen membership shrink massively in recent decades due both to downsizing by the Detroit-based Big Three and its inability to organize at foreign-owned “transplant” assembly lines.

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