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Phil on UAW Win at Volkswagen Chattanooga


In a Times Free Press article, published yesterday, Phil addresses the question: “What does the UAW vote mean for VW and auto manufacturing across the country?”

His response addresses the fact that UAW’s fight is not over. The determining factor in whether or not this win is a success comes in the contract negotiations – and the pressure is on. If they can’t land a deal that gives autoworkers pay and benefits that are significantly better than what they currently enjoy, it will be hard to convince other VW workers to join.

Volkswagen Employees Fight Back

This may come as a surprise to the United Auto Workers organizers and Volkswagen executives, but there appears to be a third party with an opinion about whether or not the Chattanooga plant should be organized – the workers themselves. As of last week, the anti-union voice via a circulating petition in the plant reached a total of 602 signatures; bringing it valiantly close to half of the production and skilled maintenance workers at the plant.

Gary Casteel, a UAW regional director, stated that he doesn’t expect the anti-Auto Workers petitions “will have any bearing on the discussions with VW.” That’s interesting and hopefully something VW employees are listening to closely. Not surprisingly the opinions of VW employees don’t matter a heck of a lot to the UAW brass.

Labor Discussions Hit Home at VW's Chattanooga Plant

The debate over whether or not to inaugurate a German-style works council system at the Volkswagon plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee is about more than creating a positive employee work environment – it is about a conflict of national identities.

Mr. Osterloh, head of VW’s works council in Germany, believes that the Tennessee political leaders and VW employees who are opposed to the installation of such a council are only opposed to it because they do not “know what a works council is.” While that is a rather condescending argument, a counterpoint could be that Mr. Osterloh does not understand that this discussion is about more than his works council program. According to American labor laws, before employees in a company can participate in such a program, they must already be organized under a labor union.

As American autoworkers view the UAW through the lens of the hollowed-out shell of Detroit,

Continue reading Labor Discussions Hit Home at VW’s Chattanooga Plant

UAW Decides on Nissan, No Fooling

What we predicted last December is now official – the UAW has announced it is conducting a card drive at Nissan in Canton, Mississippi in its last ditch effort to save the union from extinction. Earlier this year UAW president Bob King ham-handedly denied the union was targeting Nissan while simultaneously encouraging “human rights groups” to band together, with the union’s help, and go after the Japanese carmaker. There were some reports of card signing and union meetings at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant and King paid a visit to the UAW’s German counterpart. Now, all eyes are on Nissan.

On May 1, the UAW moved its headquarters from nearby Gluckstadt to an office directly across from the sprawling plant and

Continue reading UAW Decides on Nissan, No Fooling