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William Maley

VW News: Volkswagen Chattanooga Votes Against Union Representation

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The workers Volkswagen's Chattanooga assembly plant in Tennessee have made their decision on union representation. On Friday night, retired Tennessee Circuit Court Judge Sam Payne released the results of the three day vote which saw workers say no to UAW representation by a vote of 712 people opposed to 626 people in favor.

"On behalf of Volkswagen Group of America, I want to thank all of our Chattanooga production and maintenance employees for their participation in this week's vote. They have spoken, and Volkswagen will respect the decision of the majority," said Frank Fischer, CEO and Chairman of Volkswagen Chattanooga.

The decision makes the Chattanooga plant an outlier in Volkswagen's portfolio of plants. Most of them are are unionized, relying on special works councils that represent employees in important business decisions. If the plant had approved the union representation, they would be represented by a work council.

It also deals a heavy blow to the UAW which for the past two years spent a lot of time and money working on trying to get the plant unionized.

"While we certainly would have liked a victory for workers here, we deeply respect the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, Volkswagen management and IG Metall for doing their best to create a free and open atmosphere for workers to exercise their basic human right to form a union," said UAW President Bob King.

"We commend Volkswagen for its commitment to global human rights, to worker rights and trying to provide an atmosphere of freedom to make a decision. Unfortunately, politically motivated third parties threatened the economic future of this facility and the opportunity for workers to create a successful operating model that that would grow jobs in Tennessee," said UAW Region 8 Director Gary Casteel, who directs the union's Southern organizing.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), UAW, Volkswagen

William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

Press Release is on Page 2


Historic election brings outside interference in the vote of Chattanooga Volkswagen workers

02/14/14 CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Workers at Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant today have voted against union representation that would have led to the establishment of a works council that would have been the first such model of labor-management relations in the United States.

At the end of voting on Friday, Volkswagen workers voted against joining the union in a vote of 712 to 626.

The decision follows three days of voting during an election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board and comes amid a firestorm of interference and threats from special interest groups.

"While we certainly would have liked a victory for workers here, we deeply respect the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, Volkswagen management and IG Metall for doing their best to create a free and open atmosphere for workers to exercise their basic human right to form a union," said UAW President Bob King.

"We commend Volkswagen for its commitment to global human rights, to worker rights and trying to provide an atmosphere of freedom to make a decision," said UAW Region 8 Director Gary Casteel, who directs the union's Southern organizing. "Unfortunately, politically motivated third parties threatened the economic future of this facility and the opportunity for workers to create a successful operating model that that would grow jobs in Tennessee."

"While we're outraged by politicians and outside special interest groups interfering with the basic legal right of workers to form a union, we're proud that these workers were brave and stood up to the tremendous pressure from outside," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Williams, who directs the union's transnational program. "We hope this will start a larger discussion about workers' right to organize."

VOLKSWAGEN CHATTANOOGA EMPLOYEES VOTE AGAINST UNION REPRESENTATION

Feb 14, 2014

Chattanooga, Tenn. (February 14, 2014) - Volkswagen Chattanooga employees have voted in a secret ballot election against United Auto Workers (UAW) representation. Participation in the election was 89 percent. 53 percent of the eligible employees who voted decided against the UAW as their bargaining representative in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) between February 12 – 14.

"On behalf of Volkswagen Group of America, I want to thank all of our Chattanooga production and maintenance employees for their participation in this week's vote. They have spoken, and Volkswagen will respect the decision of the majority," said Frank Fischer, CEO and Chairman of Volkswagen Chattanooga. "The election results remain to be certified by the NLRB," Fischer, said.

"Our employees have not made a decision that they are against a works council. Throughout this process, we found great enthusiasm for the idea of an American-style works council both inside and outside our plant," Fischer noted.

"Our goal continues to be to determine the best method for establishing a works council in accordance with the requirements of U.S. labor law to meet VW America's production needs and serve our employees' interests," Fischer said.

Sebastian Patta, Vice President for Human Resources, said: "While there was intense outside interest in this election, our managers and employees inside the plant maintained high quality production and continued to work together in a calm and respectful manner."

"Our commitment to Tennessee is a long term investment. We look forward to continuing to work with the State of Tennessee and the City of Chattanooga to support job creation, growth, and economic development today and into the future," Fischer added.


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Well, Tennessee is a Right-to-Work state. What that means is that regardless of whether a plant is represented by a Union, workers have the right of free association and no union contract can stipulate that any worker must be a member of the union and/or pay union dues as a condition for being hired or continued employment. So, let's say 55% vote for Unionization and 60% actually join the UAW's local at the plant. The remaining 40% do not have to be union members, obey UAW strike decisions or submit to their censure or even bay their union dues to work there. In other words, union membership, participation, funding and/or obedience is strictly voluntary and limited to those workers who want and value union representation. All it means is that all the workers will have to abide by the wages, work rules, seniority and benefits negotiated by the Union -- which they may or may not prefer over generally more meritocratic structures favored by management.

The leading reasons workers vote against unionization are that being free of Unions and hence free of strikes and generous packages for senior employees tend to bring more work to the plant and result in higher growth and promotional opportunities. That and many younger workers prefer to be rewarded for performance rather than seniority. Many workers also disagree with the political positions of the Union(s) and do not wish to spend a few hundred dollars a month supporting causes, political parties and policies they personally oppose through Union dues which they have no choice but to pay if they want to work at the factory.

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