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Auto Workers

President Borack Obama speaks to crown at rally on Labor Day in Detroit, Michigan September 5 2011. UAW local 909 president Ghana Goodwin-Dye introduces President Obama. Richard Trumpka, President AFL-CIO and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis address crowd. Dennis Williams addresses crowd at rally for President Obama photo by Rebecca Cook

UAW President Dennis Williams photo by Rebecca Cook

Volkswagen has officially been ordered by the National Labor Relations Board to begin bargaining with the Auto Workers at their Chattanooga plan. Volkswagen has stood firm in its stance to only bargain with UAW if and when they represent all 1,400 production workers at the factory in Chattanooga. When the UAW failed to organize all workers, and instead carved out a micro-unit, the NLRB consented.

VW has filed

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Whistlin’ Dixie

Most of you will remember that just two years ago, Volkswagen was actively supporting the unionization of its Chattanooga, Tennessee plant. What’s changed? The company got caught cheating on emissions tests. Since then, VW management has changed quite a bit. And so has its thought process on organizing.

This change began when VW announced they were going to appeal the UAW victory with the 160 maintenance workers at the plant, a micro unit of the plants 1500 member strong workforce. VW is disputing the validity of the carve-out election, but the NLRB has ordered the automaker to the bargaining table.

The two groups are expected to meet soon, but VW isn’t expected to back down from its position that the carve-out of maintenance workers is legitimate.

Whistlin' Dixie

Tennessee’s Senate Commerce Committee approved an incentive grant of $165.8 million to Volkswagen that is supposed to “give Southeast Tennessee a big foothold in the automotive industry.” While that may be true, the problem, according to Sen. Bo Watson, is “VW is a magnet for organized labor, intentionally.”

Frank Patta

Frank Patta

Watson is referring to the newly-leaked news that though VW claimed to be a neutral party during the entirety of the UAW/VW campaign in Chattanooga, that in fact was not the case. We started catching on when VW agreed to let UAW represent their employees even though they lost the election. Since then, it has come to light that Frank Patta, general secretary of Volkswagen’s European and World Group Works Council, and

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Chattanooga Choo-Choo

The swirling situation at the VW plant in Chattanooga seems to be a bit of dog-chasing-tail. You have the UAW claiming at a minimum enough support to meet the highest bar set by VW for gaining access to managements ear. On the other side, you have the rival employee-led organization claiming that a) it has documents that would invalidate many of the signatures claimed by the UAW, and that b) the company is purposely favoring the UAW in the implementation of the new labor policy.

The effort by VW to seemingly smooth the way for recognition of UAW may jeopardize the planned expansion of the VW plant to add an SUV assembly line to the current Passat manufacturing effort. Not all legislators are pleased with VW’s moves.

Changes In Labor Law To Come?

ACEThe Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga provides an interesting case study as competing interests attempt to figure out how to get what they want. The UAW continues to attempt to organize employees at the plant, despite its “commitment” otherwise after their election defeat earlier this year. The anti-UAW employees, in order to combat the continuing UAW activity, organized into a group called the American Council of Employees (ACE). Mike Burton, interim secretary of the group, believes they’ll be the exclusive representatives of VW plant employees within a few months.

Management of the Volkswagen plant has been under pressure by its German parent company to adopt a works council type structure similar to that used in Germany, even though such an arrangement is not lawful under the National Labor Relations Act (as ACE points out

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Whistlin’ Dixie

uaw-mercedesThe Auto Workers will stop at nothing to organize Chattanooga, Tennessee’s Volkswagen plant. Before the representative election was held last February wherein UAW lost the vote by a 716-626 margin, they signed a neutrality agreement with VW that stated: “Unless otherwise agreed to by the parties, if the UAW does not receive a majority…the UAW shall discontinue all organizing activities at the Chattanooga plant and all other Volkswagen Group of America facilities and locations for a period of not less than one year…”

As we reported in July, the UAW has since established a new “members only” local with no dues requirements. Their hope is that if they can get enough employees to become members of Local 42, VW will be forced to recognize the union as the representative of its

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Whistlin’ Dixie

111229_uaw-vw_hmed_0738pOn June 27, approximately 400 students, activists, ministers, and workers rallied in front of Nissan’s Canton plant to demand an election, or should I say, another election for UAW representation. It seemed the perfect time to garner support as the Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference was being held only 25 miles away. The event brought together legendary civil and labor rights activists to declare, “Labor rights are civil rights.”

The comparison is bogus, and “labor rights” doesn’t mean guaranteed union representation. It means any employee of a company has the right to bring the discussion of union representation into their workplace; and all employees have the right to vote for or against such representation – which is exactly what happened at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant when the employees elected

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Sweetheart Deal or Union Conspiracy?

Zipper SmileyThanks to legitimized sweetheart unions, care of NLRB rulings in 2010, the unions have a back door to card check organizing. If they come to an agreement with an a company, the union can bypass an official vote for recognition, based on a showing of interest via signed authorization cards.

Automotive News reported that the UAW and VW are currently in talks. They want to help set pay and benefits by setting up a U.S. based version of the German Works Council that can be found in the other VW locations worldwide. Unfortunately for the VW Chattanooga, Tennessee plant workers, there is little to nothing they can do if VW decides to go with the UAW.

UAW Starts Card Drive on VW in Chattanooga

A Chattanooga news outlet has reported that since early March UAW organizers have been at the gates and holding meetings to gather signed authorization cards from Volkswagen workers. One VW employee told a reporter he was gathering signatures in the plant during breaks. It is also rumored that UAW organizers have been meeting with small groups of shop floor activists for several months.

Last summer UAW President Bob King traveled to Germany to coordinate support from IG Metall, the union for German Volkswagen workers setting off the first serious speculations about Volkswagen as the UAW’s first (and perhaps only plausible) target to come out of over a year of UAW staff on the ground throughout the south poking around for

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