German VW set to mark the first foreign auto factory with union
Feb 04, 2014 03:05 PM EST
According to a Bloomberg report, a Tennessee-based plant of Volkswagen AG will have a union soon, making it the first foreign-owned automaker in the US whose workers are represented by a union. The German company has agreed to allow its factory workers in its Tennessee plant to be represented by the United Auto Workers, Bloomberg said. In a statement, UAW said the National Labor Relations Board will be facilitating the voting, which will happen on February 12 to 14, after majority of the 1,550 hourly VW employees there had placed their signatures on the authorization cards.
Bloomberg added that the UAW is looking to establish German-style worker councils in traditionally non-union states like Tennessee. It noted that several of its elected officials in the US have voiced their opinions against unions, with a senator saying that it will cause job losses.
Worcester, Massachusetts-based Clark University labor law professor Gary Chaison said, "Essentially the UAW, which has for years been trying to make inroads into foreign-owned plants, finally has a foreign-owned plant it can organize. That's really remarkable."
Chaison clarified that union affiliation in Germany is not required for employees to create councils.
The union added that it has already organized factory workers at foreign-based auto plants located in Illinois, Michigan and California, areas where US companies usually had an interest in. UAW also stated that its success at the VW's Chattanooga plant was a milestone, as it will be the first wholly-owned foreign manufacturer who agreed for them to enroll union members.
Volkswagen Chattanooga chairman and chief executive officer Frank Fischer said in a statement, "Volkswagen Group of America and the UAW have agreed to this common path for the election. That means employees can decide on representation in a secret ballot election, independently conducted by the NLRB. Volkswagen is committed to neutrality and calls upon all third parties to honor the principle of neutrality."