At Volkswagen’s North American plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee the vote on weather workers want union representation from the UAW is due to start today and things seem to heat up on both ends of the debate.
According to the UAW President Bob King, who began discussions with VW back in 2010, the German company has accepted the union’s “principles for fair union elections”. The UAW further says the union forged a high level of cooperation and understanding even before the outcome of the vote cast by the workers from Wednesday through Friday is known.
“Volkswagen may be one of the few employers — if not the first — that has ever explicitly agreed to those principles,” said Gary Klotz, a labor attorney with the Detroit firm of Butzel Long. “It’s almost a dream world for the UAW.”
On the other hand, this supposed automaker-union cooperation is another delicate subject for the opposition, as the Tennessee Republican legislators even threatened to stop tax incentives, damaging a future expansion of the three-year-old factory if workers side with the UAW.
“It has been widely reported that Volkswagen has promoted a campaign that has been unfair, unbalanced and, quite frankly, un-American in the traditions of American labor campaigns,” said State Senator Bo Watson. “Should the workers choose to be represented by the United Auto Workers, then I believe additional incentives for expansion will have a very tough time passing the Tennessee Senate.”
The political pressure and the work of other anti-union groups has even taken its toll on Volkswagen, which from the start tried to remain neutral but was ultimately forced to issue a statement that said “outside political groups won’t divert us from the work at hand: innovating, creating jobs, growing and producing great automobiles.”
VW and the UAW decided to allow this week’s election to be under the supervision of the National Labor Relations Board – the German company is accustomed to work with unions, as most of its facilities in Europe and South America are organized through joint employee-management works councils.