According to a source that has knowledge of the matter, Volkswagen AG’s top executives are divided on union worker representation at the company’s Tennessee assembly plant, but ultimately want a formal vote from them.
Although VW’s US senior officials are against the United Auto Workers, the eight-member management board back home in Germany could still ask the union for help in setting up a German-style employee board at the Chattanooga plant, according to the person, who declined to be identified. Also, all executives agree that the final call must be voted on by the workers in a secret ballot.
Such a decision could be a setback to the ambitions of the UAW, which has recently made organizing foreign-owned assembly plants in the South a strategical top priority -aimed at bolstering its dwindling membership, which has over time decreased by around three-quarters, since it last peaked, back in 1979. UAW leaders contend that a vote could present the opportunity for anti-union forces to deter workers into voting against the union.
A final decision made by VW’s board looks far away, though. Top management is feuding over the US plant, arguing whether they should adopt a German-style form of representation – also known as co-determination – where hourly and salaried employees have places on a board called a works council, the source added.