VW labor chief says Chattanooga model hinges on works panel, UAW ‘open’ to concept of works council

VW labor chief says Chattanooga model hinges on works panel

UAW ‘open’ to concept of works council

Automotive News | October 7, 2013 – 7:05 am EST
— UPDATED: 10/7/13 12:54 pm ET – new story
BERLIN (Reuters) — Volkswagen’s top labor leader lent weight today to efforts by the UAW to represent workers at the German company’s U.S. plant, an issue that has raised hackles among some politicians and union critics.

Volkswagen wants German-style labor representation at the plant and has held talks with the UAW. The union is keen to boost its declining membership and get a toehold that could allow it to expand among all foreign-owned auto companies.

And in a sign of political opposition, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., was quoted by Handelsblatt today as saying it would be one of VW’s “biggest mistakes” to allow the UAW to organize workers in Chattanooga.

But Bernd Osterloh, head of VW’s global works council, said he would keep talking with the UAW and that forming a council was important if the plant wanted a second model in the future.

“We know how important that vehicle is for Chattanooga,” Osterloh, who as deputy VW chairman has a say on production decisions, added in a statement of the plant, which builds the Passat mid-sized sedan.

“In the interest of our U.S. colleagues, we’re open to such an allocation (of an order).” Osterloh, also a member of the IG Metall engineering union, said the UAW was prepared to cede some of its rights to a works council.

Osterloh said he wanted to engage Republicans and Democrats about a works council model once legal issues were clarified. He stressed the VW principle of involving staff and management in running plants, called co-determination, was not negotiable.

He said he plans to meet politicians and other supporters and opponents of the UAW over the next weeks on a visit that had to be changed after his plane was grounded.

The UAW would like VW voluntarily to recognize the U.S. union as the best choice to represent workers in Tennessee.

Some 88 of VW’s 104 plants worldwide have works councils. U.S. labor law requires that any such council be recognized through a U.S. trade union. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Corker are both seen as anti-UAW.

A UAW success at Chatanooga could alter the landscape of the U.S. auto sector and open the door to similar efforts at plants owned by Germany’s Mercedes in Alabama and BMW in South Carolina, and possibly those owned by Japanese and South Korean automakers, analysts have said.

Corker has come out against any UAW influence over car plants in the South because he gives the union part of the blame for the demise of Detroit as the heart of U.S. auto production.

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker says the UAW and Volkswagen’s German model would be incompatible.

Login Status
You are not logged in.
Seniority Lists
Internal Job Postings
Recent Posts!
Bargaining Committee

Mike Herron
Tim Stannard
Gary Goforth
Mike Danford
Danny Taylor
Steve Roberts
Jay Minella
Steve Homrich
Chris Brown
Richie Griffith

1853 Officers

Tim Stannard
Mike Herron
Vice President
Darrell DeJean
Financial Secretary
Mark Wunderlin
Recording Secretary
Peggy Mullins
Trustee (3)
Jay Lowe
Dave Clements
Joe DiCataldo
Sgt. at Arms
Norman Jenks
Ken Buck
E-Board at Large (2)
Paul Taylor
Steve Roberts
GM Unit Chair
Mike Herron
Voith Unit Chair
Larry Heflin
Ryder Unit Chair
Patrick Linck
AFV Unit Chair
Neil Osborne
Retiree Chair
Mike Martinez

Get Text Alerts


*Standard text messaging rates may apply from your carrier