Volkswagen AG’s top labor leader still wants workers at the company’s plant in Tennessee to have German-style representation – which would require some form of US union representation.
Bernd Osterloh, head of VW’s global works council, told Reuters that he still plans to visit workers at the plant to offer “clarification” on how a works council operates at the company – an arrangement that would require by law the involvement of a U.S. trade union such as the United Auto Workers.
Osterloh also said he expects to meet with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and U.S. Senator Bob Corker, who played a key role in bringing Volkswagen to Chattanooga, a city where he was once mayor. Haslam and Corker have voiced opposition to representation of VW’s Chattanooga workers by the UAW, saying it would damage the state’s ability to attract companies.
No date for a trip to Tennessee has been set, Osterloh said. A works council, in which both blue-collar and white-collar workers are represented, is an essential part of VW’s corporate model, he said.
“We started out with the goal to implement a works council at every (VW production) site in the world,” Osterloh said, adding that anything beyond that depends on talks among the parties. “We will now have to see how things work out.”
In Germany, a works council represents workers on work rules in the plants and some other dealings with the company, but the IG Metall union, of which Osterloh is a member, negotiates wages and benefits.
Earlier this month, Osterloh lent weight to UAW efforts to represent VW Chattanooga workers by saying the company wants Chattanooga to join the rest of the company’s major plants around the world in having a works council.
) - Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 - filed under Industry
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