Earlier this month, four workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant filed charges against the automaker, claiming that the company’s officials are pushing for them to agree to UAW representation. The automaker currently has a works council established at all of its fully-owned plants across the globe.
The disgruntled employees filed their complaint with the National Labor Relations Board’s regional office in Atlanta, where they released a statement saying that going along with the company’s wishes would “force workers to accept the representation of UAW union officials,” and that accepting the UAW “interferes with Chattanooga facility employees’ rights to choose whether or not to engage in self-organization to form, join, or assist labor organizations.”
The majority of the plant’s workers are on board with UAW representation, and Bernd Osterloh, head of VW’s global works council will continue to work with the UAW in the hopes of forming a council. Having a council at Chattanooga is crucial, especially as the company wishes to start production on a new SUV at the plant.
One problem standing in the way of UAW representation is the possibility of right-to-work organizations or the company itself telling workers that union representation will lead to the plant closing. Both Volkswagen and UAW spokesmen declined to comment on the issue, but Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation said that shutting down the plant may not be an idle threat. “If VW management was discouraging workers from joining the UAW with threats, there’s little question that an NLRB prosecution would have already begun at the UAW’s behest.”
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