News Column

VW May Unionize Chattanooga Plant

September 6, 2013

Volkswagen said it was talking with U.S. union officials as it considers establishing a German-styled works council at its plant in Tennessee.

In a note to employees at the plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., where 2,000 workers assemble Passat vehicles, the plant's chairman Frank Fischer and vice president of human resources Sebastian Patta said the talks with union officials would look at the "possibility of implementing an innovative model of employee representation for all employees."

A German-style work council includes hourly workers and salaried staff, along with management, The New York Times reported Friday.

The team discusses items such as productivity and work conditions, the times reported.

In order to establish the council, however, the shop must be unionized. Otherwise, it would be in violation of U.S. labor laws, the Times said.

"VW workers in Chattanooga have the unique opportunity to introduce this new model of labor relations to the United States, in partnership with the United Auto Workers [union]," said Bob King, president of the UAW.

But some in the state, including Gov. Bill Haslam, have voiced disapproval of a union at the plant.

"We have heard from other folks that we're recruiting that that would dampen their enthusiasm with Tennessee," Haslam said Tuesday, referring to companies the state government is attempting to lure to the state.




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