According to a recent report, late last week, on Friday, top executives at Volkswagen Group started high-level negotiations with the United Auto Workers on how the union might represent workers at VW’s U.S. assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
According to a report in German newspaper Handelsblatt, UAW President Bob King met with Horst Neumann, the board member for human resources at VW; in order to discuss setting up a German-style works council to represent workers at the Chattanooga plant.
Top executives say that in order to start a works council in Chattanooga — which is the only VW assembly plant, worldwide without one – an outside union like the UAW is needed to satisfy U.S. labor law.
VW has an interesting works council model, in which blue-collar and white-collar workers all vote for plant-level representatives who decide working conditions in tandem with executives. They also elect the members of a global works council that has a say in major business decisions – like whether to build a new assembly plant, which products to launch, and where to build them.
The talks come as top VW executives discuss a possible expansion of the $1 billion Tennessee plant, which is a cornerstone of VW’s grand ambitions in the United States.
The plant has a current production capacity of 150,000 vehicles per year, but with additional investments and products, that number could eventually rise to 500,000 vehicles.