VW’s labor chief wants union involvement in US plant image

Bernd Osterloh, head of VW’s works council said he might fight against any new investments in the US South if the German-style works council at the automaker’s plant in Tennessee would not be put in place.

Last Friday, workers at VW’s factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, US decided to ban the United Auto Workers union from representing their interests, which also – because of US law – meant they rejected the German-style works council.

In such a council, German workers have a big influence in the company’s decisions, because they actually hold half the seats on the carmaker’s supervisory board.

“Outside conservatives created a massively anti-union sentiment,” Bernd Osterloh, which is both a VW supervisory board member and head of the works council, said in a statement. “It’s possible that one would come to the conclusion that this influence represents an ‘unfair labor practice.’”

He added that along with UAW representatives and US labor law experts on how to best proceed from now on to still create the employee group at the factory, but also mentioned that VW might become in the future reluctant to further growth plans in the region without an agreement on employee representation.

“I can imagine fairly well that another VW factory in the United States, provided that one more should still be set up there, does not necessarily have to be assigned to the south again,” said Osterloh. “If co-determination isn’t guaranteed in the first place, we as workers will hardly be able to vote in favor” of potentially building another plant in the US south.

German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung was the first to publish Osterloh’s opinion and a spokesman at the Wolfsburg-based works council subsequently confirmed the comments.

Via Reuters/Bloomberg