Even though back in January amid political tensions the UAW lost an important ballot to secure representation at VW’s Chattanooga plant, the union has managed to work its way around the worker decision and gain a crucial partial and unconventional recognition.
According to a company spokesperson, the UAW managed to prove to Volkswagen Ag that it currently represents more than 45% of the workers of the facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to the US union, membership at its Local 42 in Chattanooga “exceeds a majority of workers at the plant.” This is the first instance that the UAW has managed to gain recognition at a foreign-owned auto assembly facility in the traditionally anti-union US south. On the other hand, the UAW did fail – for now, at least – in its quest to become the exclusive bargaining agent for all of the plant’s 1,500 blue-collar workers.
Only 10 months ago the UAW lost the all-important vote to gain the exclusive bargaining rights for the whole factory, as Volkswagen wanted to establish at the Chattanooga factory a works council – which represents both hourly and salaried workers at VW’s other factories outside the US. Momentarily, the Tennessee facility remains the only VW plant in the world without that form of representation, though the UAW can now meet regularly with the company’s human resources department and top plant executives.