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Volkswagen Agrees to Meet with UAW

Automaker, union discussing fate of Tennessee plant.

by on May.02, 2016

Gary Casteel, the UAW's Secretary Treasurer and leader of the union's organizing effort in Chattanooga, is meeting with VW to discuss the future of the plant.

Volkswagen AG is preparing to open discussions with United Auto Workers on the sensitive issue of whether it will accept the presence of the UAW at its plant in Chattanooga.

The pair have said that they will now meet to try to resolve their differences, reopening a process that could lead to talks over union representation of the workforce at the German car maker’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant.

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If the VW accepts the UAW as a bargaining agent for maintenance workers at the Chattanooga plant, it would mark the first time the a European or Asian automaker with a plant in the Southeastern U.S. has agreed to bargain with the UAW. (more…)

VW Steps Up Operations in Tennessee

New stamping plant partnership will add 500 jobs, simplify supply chain.

by on Jun.23, 2015

VW will build a version of its CrossBlue Concept when it completes the Chattanooga plant expansion.

Volkswagen continues to expand its operations in Tennessee, and with the German maker already set to double the size of its Chattanooga assembly plant it will also partner with supplier Gestamp to set up a new stamping plant near the assembly line.

The $180 million project will create another 500 jobs, improve basic logistics and allow the use of an advanced hot stamping process yielding ultra-high-strength steel panels that are lighter, more fuel-efficient and safer, according to Volkswagen.

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“The importance of this expanded partnership for Volkswagen and Chattanooga cannot be overstated,” said Christian Koch, President and CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga. “We have put another crucial pillar into place for our future success and the benefits of this expansion will impact the community for years to come,” Koch added during a news conference in Chattanooga.


VW Looking to Americanize Vehicles Sold in US

Maker planning product development center in Tennessee.

by on Sep.10, 2014

VW is hoping its CrossBlue Concept will spur U.S. sales, which are down 13.4% in 2014.

Volkswagen wants more American input into its vehicles sold in the U.S. so it’s creating a product development center in Tennessee. Despite this need, the maker’s “Cross Blue” concept, which is supposed to revive U.S. sales, will be developed solely in Germany.

The new product development center will be next to its assembly plant in Chattanooga and help shorten the company’s product cycle, according to Mark Trahan, Volkswagen of America executive vice president.

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During the company’s recent product line preview, Trahan noted that cutting development cycles was a key objective in the company’s plans and should strengthen the maker’s position in the U.S. The center, which should be up and running in the next couple of years, is eventually expected to have as many as 200 employees. (more…)

Though Revenues Slip, VW Beats Q2 Earnings Expectation

Audi drives profit surge.

by on Jul.31, 2014

VW CEO Martin Winterkorn wants to balance profitability and aggressive growth going forward.

The world’s second-largest automaker beat expectations with a strong second quarter profit, up 14.1%, despite a decline in revenues.

The Thursday release of Volkswagen AG’s earnings revealed that its biggest luxury line, Audi AG, helped offset some problems at its namesake brand. The report came as VW begins a major effort to shift its focus from raw growth to a more profitable expansion plan, with Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn planning to cut costs and boost productivity.

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“In light of the continued strong competitive pressures, the tense situation in some emerging economies and the fundamental technical and economic changes happening in our industry, we are working hard to create all the conditions we need today to ensure success tomorrow,” the CEO said in a statement accompanying the earnings release.

VW earned 3.25 billion Euros, or $4.35 billion, during the second quarter, up from 2.85 billion during the same period a year ago. The consensus of 13 industry analysts polled by the Bloomberg news service had anticipated earnings of 3.31 billion Euros.


Tennessee’s Anti-Union Approach May Stall Plans to Expand VW Plant

Maker might look for other options to build CrossBlue model.

by on Apr.08, 2014

The CrossBlue Concept was slated to be produced at the company's plant in Tennessee, but the efforts by state and national lawmakers to chase off the UAW, may have cost the plant the vehicle.

The state’s political leaders did everything they could to keep the union out of Volkswagen’s big assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., but they may also have short-circuited plans by the automaker to expand that factory to add production of a major new crossover-utility vehicle.

Barely two months after workers at the VW factory narrowly voted against the United Auto Workers Union, plans for the new Volkswagen CrossBlue model appear to have ground to a halt, in part due to delays over proposed state incentives meant to offset the cost of that factory expansion.

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And with the Tennessee legislature set to soon adjourn for the year, VW may be left with no option but to consider alternative production plans, several sources cautioned. They note that the automaker has become increasingly wary of working with Tennessee in the wake of the union flap – several top state leaders directly criticizing the company for inviting the UAW vote. (more…)

Workers to Decide on Union at VW Plant

Move could be breakthrough for UAW's efforts to organize "transplants."

by on Feb.03, 2014

UAW President Bob King has secured a vote at VW's Chattanooga, Tenn. plant to establish a works council.

In a potentially groundbreaking development that could determine the long-term viability of the United Auto Workers Union, workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. will vote this month on whether to let the union represent them.

Virtually every major “import” now operates at least one U.S. assembly plant – some today producing the vast majority of the vehicles they sell in this country at these “transplant” factories. So far, the UAW has failed to gain a foothold as makers like Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz have actively resisted organizing drives.

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That has led to a sharp decline in the union’s membership and severely weakened its financial base, leading some analysts to warn that unless the UAW can crack into some of the transplants its future could be in danger. (more…)

Tennessee Senator Blast Both Volkswagen and the UAW

VW moves forward with plant to create “works council” at US plant.

by on Sep.11, 2013

Tennessee Senator Bob Corker has blasted the United Auto Workers Union’s bid to organize employees at the Volkswagen AG assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. in remarks also highly critical of the company’s German managers.

VW executives said last week in a letter to workers at the Chattanooga plant they are in talks with the UAW about the U.S. union’s bid to represent workers at the factory using an “innovative model,” which would be a milestone in the UAW’s long-running – and so far unsuccessful — effort to organize foreign-owned auto plants.

Corker told Reuters that VW executives at the Chattanooga plant were “forced” to sign the letter.

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In a separate interview with the Associated Press, Corker said Volkswagen would become a “laughingstock” if it goes through with a deal to have the UAW represent workers at its Tennessee plant. Corker also said he was dismayed when VW last week sent a letter to employees regarding its discussion with the UAW about creating a German-style works council at the Chattanooga plant.


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…)

VW Cross Blue Decision on Hold

Maker introduces German apprentice concept to Tennessee.

by on Aug.14, 2013

VW needs a home for the Cross Blue Concept and Tennessee has been considered the most likely production source.

A decision on whether to build a new midsized crossover vehicle at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee may not come until early next year now.

Various company sources caution that the German maker is looking at a variety of options for a production version of the Cross Blue concept, as well as for its plants in both Tennessee and in Mexico. But bringing Cross Blue to the U.S. is considered a leading alternative as it would both increase utilization of the sprawling factory complex and give ready access to what is likely to be the crossover’s largest market.

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Frank Fischer, president and chief executive officer of the Volkswagen manufacturing facility in Chattanooga says he is hoping a decision on the long-delayed plans for Cross Blue will be made soon. But it likely won’t come until late this year or even the first quarter of 2014, he said.

Volkswagen is now fine-tuning the business case for the vehicle, which requires rigorous cost analysis as well as cooperation from marketing, engineering and purchasing.


VW Postpones Decision on Tennessee Plant Expansion, 2nd Product

But announcement likely before year-end.

by on Jun.26, 2013

VW says the CrossBlue Concept was designed specifically for the US market.

Volkswagen has some big news for Tennessee – but not the news many had expected.  The German maker has invested another $40 million in the state, about two hours from its sprawling Chattanooga assembly complex, to add a new regional distribution center. But the announcement sidestepped the really big decision many have been expecting.

VW has signaled that it will soon decide whether to add a second product line to the U.S. plant – a move that could lead it to double the size of the Chattanooga facility, expanding capacity to as much as 500,000 units annually.

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“We expect a decision in 2013,” Carsten Kreb, communications director for Volkswagen Group of America Inc. said in an e-mail. But no decision has yet been taken as to whether and, if so, which model this could be built at the plant.

However, it appears almost certain – as reported last week – that the Chattanooga plant will eventually produce a version of the CrossBlue Concept, a three-row crossover-utility vehicle that would help expand Volkswagen’s presence in the rapidly expanding CUV market.