For the first time, the United Auto Workers has been formally recognized by a foreign-owned auto factory in the South.
UAW was certified to represent at least 45% of Volkswagen workers at its Chattanooga auto plant in Tennessee following an audit of union membership. This ends a streak of UAW failures to unionize workers at foreign-owned auto plants in the US.
It also gives the UAW the ability to regularly meet with Volkswagen’s management at its only factory in the US. If the union can attract at least 50% of Volkswagen workers, it will be recognized as the company’s exclusive bargaining agent.
The plant employs about 1,500 blue-collar workers.
It should be interesting to see how this goes. VW’s German plants are unionized, but the relationship is more collaborative/responsibility sharing than the traditional UAW relationship the big 3 have had. The German labor unions often have a few seats on the board of directors also. It will be interesting to see if this can be done in the US.
It’s important to understand that the UAW did not hire these employees; Chrysler did but the union is obligated to represent them otherwise the members could sue the union in court.
The problem lies in the fact that the company HR department most likely didn’t do their job and properly vett these employees prior to hiring them, but the blame is almost always shifted upon unions since it’s more convenient for the company to do that as opposed to admitting they made a mistake.
Just because a company undergoes an organizing campaign and the union wins, it does not mean consumer confidence is going to go down in the company products as long as the company has properly vetted its work force and the product they turn out is top of the line.
Agreed, people forget that it is a negotiation between the union and the company. Each side is expected to negotiate in good faith, and look out for the interests they are representing. Don’t blame just Union Workers if you think they’re overpaid, have too protective of regulations keeping them from being fired, too lavish pensions etc. etc. The company representatives agreed to this and if the company is going broke due to the debts from pension benefits etc. that they agreed to- both sides are too blame.
The interesting thing to me is, I thought the workers had voted not to unionize just a few months ago even though VW management wanted it to occur. They claimed they wanted the same type of cooperation with the workers as in Germany, but could not put that in place without a Union.
Like any other unionized company, the future will depend on how realistic both sides are in acknowledging each other’s interest and the overarching goal to have a profitable company. Without that, the jobs disappear on both sides of the table- both management and workers.
Most companies and unions recognize that it’s in their best interests to agree to which both sides feel are sensible goals in the contract. The company would be unlikely to agree to anything that would put them out of business and likewise the union doesn’t want to make unreasonable demands which could possibly put the company out of business.
I don’t know how many plants VW has in this country; its quite possible that it was another plant or the minimum time frame had expired or it was a voluntary recognition by VW.
It’s best when both sides can agree to a working partnership; both sides benefit from it.