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GM, Ford, FCA Kick Off Negotiations with UAW

Union looking to get its piece of the automotive recovery.

by on Jul.13, 2015

Past UAW President Bob King shakes hands with Ford Chairman Bill Ford as negotiations began in 2011 on the now expiring contract.

The overall economic impact of the negotiations between the domestic carmakers and the United Auto Workers on wages across the U.S. has waned over the years, but the inherent drama of the talks lives on as the two sides get down to bargaining this year and the stakes are as high as ever.

The negotiations, which open today with an official handshake between General Motors executives and top UAW officers, promise to particularly eventful – and unpredictable – because of the climate change that surrounds the 2015 negotiations.

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After all these are the first negotiations since the 1990s that follow a streak of five very profitable years, noted Kristin Dziczek, an analyst with Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. (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…)

Volkswagen Grants Status to Second “Union”

Chattanooga plant gets new representation.

by on Feb.17, 2015

The American Council of Employees joined the UAW in gaining rights to represent workers at VW's plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Volkswagen AG is allowing an “anti-UAW” group to represent employees just like the UAW at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The new organization is called the American Council of Employees (ACE) and now has the same access rights to represent workers as the UAW.

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The self-described alternative to the UAW claims it is a “truly local organization” with “no outside influence or political agenda.” The UAW attempted to organize the plant last year, but failed to garner enough votes to be the sole representative for all of the hourly workers at the facility. (more…)

UAW Plans to Demand Hourly Wage Increase in Next Deal

Union boss says he’s looking to end two-tier wage system.

by on Dec.15, 2014

UAW President Dennis Williams wants a pay increase for hourly workers in the next union contract.

Hourly workers Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group have earned a pay increase and it will be one of the key demands the United Auto Workers puts on the table when contract talks open next summer.

“A general wage increase is important to our members and to our nation,” said UAW President Dennis Williams, who took over the UAW presidency in June from Bob King, during a year-end meeting with reporters at UAW headquarters in Detroit.

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Williams also noted the expectations for a pay increase are rising among the union’s membership, Williams said. “The companies are profitable again and there is expectation there. In 2008 and 2009 we had a disaster. We made sacrifices,” he said. (more…)

UAW Foresees Labor Contract with Volkswagen Plant

Maker’s recognition at Chattanooga facility first step in process.

by on Dec.10, 2014

Gary Casteel, the UAW's Secretary Treasurer, said VW's recognition opens the door for discussions on any number of topics. (Photo credit: UAW)

The United Auto Workers expects Volkswagen’s recognition of the union at the company’s assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will lead ultimately to a labor contract with the German automaker.

Gary Casteel, the UAW’s Secretary Treasurer and leader of the union’s organizing effort in Chattanooga, said Volkswagen’s recognition opens the door for discussions on any number of topics.

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While a contract isn’t at the top of the list now since that would require formal legal recognition of the union by VW, but it certainly is a possibility in the not so distant future, Casteel said. (more…)

UAW Defeats Foes in Battle of Chattanooga

Volkswagen acknowledges union’s role as employee representative.

by on Dec.09, 2014

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

The United Auto Workers appears to have finally cracked the solidly non-union South.

The UAW said it now has enough employee signatures at the Volkswagen of America plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to serve as their representative in discussions with VW management on both the local and international level.

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“We appreciate Volkswagen’s timely response in verifying UAW Local 42’s substantial membership level, which exceeds a majority of workers at the plant,” said Gary Casteel, secretary-treasurer of the UAW, who heads the International Union’s Transnational Department. (more…)

Global Union Chiefs Gather at Nissan Plant in Mississippi

Group investigating alleged workplace violations.

by on Oct.09, 2014

Nissan's Canton, Miss. plant is hosting union leaders from around the globe.

Union influence is beginning to be felt in earnest across the south United States. Just days after the UAW opened a new Local at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama, a group of global union leaders are descending on Nissan’s plant in Canton, Mississippi, to meet with plant employees and community leaders.

The plan is to find out what the working conditions are like in the facility and investigate alleged violations of international standards at the plant.  While there they’ll also meet with temporary workers employed by Kelly Services who help staff the plant.

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The delegation is being led by Jyrki Raina, head of the IndustriALL Global Union, which is an international organization that represents more than 50 million workers in 140 countries. Some of those workers include including Nissan and Renault employees in other countries. Raina is being accompanied by representatives of auto unions from six countries including Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Brazil and South Africa. (more…)

Ford Worker Files Charges against UAW

Claims union collects for non-core activities despite opting out.

by on Aug.21, 2014

A Ford hourly employee filed charges against the UAW with the National Labor Relations Board.

The UAW may be getting an early look at possible changes in the dues it collects from its members as a Ford hourly worker filed charges against the union with the National Labor Relations Board over how much it collects from him.

Todd Lemire, a tool-and-die maker in Dearborn, wants the UAW to collect enough to cover only expenses related to the organization’s core activities, such as collective bargaining, grievances, etc. He doesn’t want to pay for the union’s participation in political activities, specifically its support of the Democratic Party.

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He opted out of paying dues for those activities through his Beck rights, a 1988 Supreme Court decision allowing union members to exempt themselves from paying for those activities. Lemire opted out in early April. (more…)

UAW Implements New Strategy for VW’s Chattanooga Plant

Local union structure may offset decades of defeat in southeast.

by on Jul.10, 2014

The UAW is creating a new local union to represent pro-union employees at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant.

The United Auto Workers union is down, but not out. After its recent efforts to organize Volkswagen’s assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the union said it would not abandon the plant and it’s readying to make good on that promise by creating a new local union to represent pro-union workers at the plant.

The new local will not be the official representative of the workers at the plant until a majority of the workers inside the plant can vote again. The UAW suffered a demoralizing defeat when it lost a representation election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board by a 712 to 626 margin.

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However, Dennis Williams, the UAW’s new president, said organizing the transplants remains one of the UAW top priorities. In addition, Berthold Huber, president of Germany’s IG Metal union, said in an interview during a recent visit to Detroit, the influential German Metalworkers was prepared to support the UAW’s drive in Chattanooga regardless of how long it takes. (more…)

UAW Elects Williams New President

New union chief faces tough times ahead.

by on Jun.04, 2014

Dennis Williams was elected the 11th president of the UAW by delegates in Detroit today. Photo credit: UAW.

In what was a foregone conclusion, union delegates today elected Dennis Williams president of the UAW, replacing the retiring Bob King. Williams, who was the union’s secretary-treasurer, crushed his only challenger, Gary Walkowicz, a Local 600 leader from Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant.

Walkowicz has been critical of many of the UAW’s policies, including the recently approved 25% increase in monthly dues. Williams carried more than 90% of the vote with 3,215 of a possible 3,270 votes.

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“It’s humbling,” Williams said during a short meeting with the media following his victory, according to the Detroit News. “I’m excited for our union.” (more…)