Detlef Wetzel, IG Metall’s President, said in a statement released late on Friday last week that Volkswagen should not support or work together with anti-labor groups operating at the maker’s sole US factory in Tennessee.
The German union represents the company’s local automotive workers and the executive asked Volkswagen to “show its true colors” by simply recognizing the United Auto Workers union as its partner of discussions at the Chattanooga plant after the labor organization demonstrates it has support from a majority of workers there. German law awards worker representatives a lot of power in companies, as the union officials have 50% of the seats in Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen’s board of directors – adding further importance to Wetzel’s move to support the UAW.
Volkswagen’s management has been under constant pressure from the union representatives on the board as the US facility is the only global factory belonging to VW that lacks formal labor representation for its employees. The carmaker wants to create a German-style works council that would encompass both salaried and hourly workers, but US labor law allows the move only if an independent union is representing the latter. The UAW back in February lost a ballot to represent the workers at the plant amid rising tensions with local politicians.