UAW touts vote at Volkswagen assembly plant in Tennessee

Feb. 5, 2014 at 5:30 PM
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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Feb. 5 (UPI) -- The United Auto Workers says a vote to unionize a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee could lead to a ground-breaking collaborative management approach.

The UAW said in a release Monday workers at the company's Chattanooga, Tenn., facility would vote Feb. 12-14 on whether or not to have the union represent the hourly workforce and move toward a management approach using "principles of co-determination that would include the formation of a works council," which, although common in Germany, would be the first one established in the United States. About 1,600 hourly workers would be affected.

"Ultimately, such a labor relations model would give workers and integral role into co-managing the company and provide input on workplace improvements that would contribute to the success of the company and the workers," the UAW said.

The assembly plant in Chattanooga is the only major Volkswagen plant in the country without union representation. The company filed with the National Labor Relations Board for the vote.

Workers opposed to union representation charge the company and union have unfairly kept them from making their case to fellow employees in group encounters, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported Monday.

"We're being railroaded," VW employee Mike Burton said. "We're angry we're not being given a fair say."

But UAW President Bob King touted the chance to co-manage the plant.

"Volkswagen is known globally for its system of cooperation with unions and works councils," King said in a statement.

The deal, he said, would "set a new standard in the United States for innovative labor-management relations that benefit the company, the entire workforce, shareholders and the community," he said.

"We have reached an agreement with Volkswagen Group of America that will allow workers to express their opinion and decide on the question of union representation in an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation," UAW Region 8 Director Gary Casteel said in a statement.

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