Germany’s Volkswagen AG, the second largest automaker in the world, announced recently it decided to recognize the American Council of Employees – a new group constituted to represent workers at its auto assembly facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The new group is a direct competitor to the one already recognized and established by the United Auto Workers, the US auto union that had been mulling to get a foothold in the anti-union South for years. Following numerous clashes, scandals and even a fiercely disputed ballot last year, the German automaker decided for an unconventional manner of representation, with each group able to meet with plant management. The ACE is an alternative to and has campaigned against the UAW union, with the latter last year losing the vote that would have ceded exclusive representation rights for the workers at the plant.
According to company, the ACE met the prerequisite requirement of proving to an outside auditor it was supported by at least 15 percent of the plant’s hourly and salaried workers, while the UAW did the same two months ago – though the union showed it had gained the support of more than 45 percent of hourly workers at the plant. The new labor policy set up by VW at the plant has different layers of access to plant management based on a group’s support level – naturally the UAW now has the upper hand. “I’m not anti-union, I understand that a properly run union can benefit people. We will be that union,” commented Sean Moss, president of the ACE.