Newspaper article International New York Times

Labor Groups Gain Entry to U.S. Volkswagen Plants

Newspaper article International New York Times

Labor Groups Gain Entry to U.S. Volkswagen Plants

Article excerpt

The United Auto Workers applauded the move because it would mean partial recognition of the union.

Volkswagen announced a new policy on Wednesday that was likely to allow several labor groups, including the United Automobile Workers, to represent employees at the company's Chattanooga, Tenn., plant.

The U.A.W. applauded the move because it would mean partial recognition of the union and regular discussions between management and the U.A.W., and perhaps other labor groups as well. For years, the union has been straining to get a foothold in any of the foreign- owned auto plants in the South.

But VW's new policy stops short of the U.A.W.'s ultimate goal of being the exclusive union and bargaining agent for the plant's workers.

Volkswagen has been under intense pressure from its powerful labor union in Germany, IG Metall, to grant recognition to the U.A.W. in Chattanooga. The union's push for recognition was hurt when the plant's workers voted 712-626 in February against U.A.W. representation.

Under VW's new policy, employee groups will be able to use company space for meetings, post information and announcements, and have regular meetings with representatives of Volkswagen's management. Groups that have the support of more than 15 percent of members can meet monthly with VW's human resource officials, while those with more than 45 percent support can meet once every two weeks with Volkswagen Chattanooga's executive committee.

"We recognize and accept that many of our employees are interested in external representation, and we are putting this policy in place so that a constructive dialogue is possible and available for everyone," said Sebastian Patta, executive vice president for human resources at Volkswagen Chattanooga. "Volkswagen has a long tradition of positive employee engagement at our plants around the world, and we welcome this in our company."

A group of employees that opposes U.A.W. representation, the American Council of Employees, has also said that it hopes to represent VW workers in Chattanooga. …

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