While the United Auto Workers has so far unsuccessfully organized attempts to unionize workers at the VW plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the local unit of German carmaker VW might have provided the solution.
According to the VW AG division in the US, the German automaker has opened up to preliminary steps that would lead to union representation at the factory. If the UAW succeeds in securing plant representation, it would be for the first time it has done it when it comes to foreign-owned factories in the anti-union South of the country.
Back in February, the UAW bid was overthrown in a critical vote lost 712-to-626 – but now the union says it won the backing of a majority of workers at the plant. And, because of new policy being implemented at the factory, the carmaker is open to dialogue about representation if the labor union can demonstrate it represents a certain number of employees. “We recognize and accept that many of our employees are interested in external representation and we are putting this policy in place,” said Sebastian Patta, a local VW official.
The new system opens up to labor representation via a three-tiered system that can guide the interactions between the management and the organizations. An external auditor will be called in to weigh membership and if a union has 15% of the workforce it can meet with human resources representatives each month. If representation stands between 30 and 45% then the union can have more frequent meetings with VW officials and the carmaker’s executive committee.