<National Report>Chattanooga, TN–Top Volkswagen executives are meeting this evening to discuss the process for closing their Chattanooga plant following a vote last week that saw workers in the plant reject efforts by VW representatives to setup a German-style works council by voting against representation by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.
“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 Bernd Osterloh, head of VW’s works council. “The conservatives stirred up massive, anti-union sentiments,” Osterloh continued. “It’s possible that the conclusion will be drawn that this interference amounted to unfair labor praxis.”
A source close to the discussion, who chose to speak with National Report on the condition of anonymity, had this to say: “This weeks vote was a serious misstep for workers at the plant as well as the politicians who intervened. Senator Corker’s remarks assuring voters that if they were to vote against the UAW that VW would announce increasing production at the Chattanooga plant was not only a flat out lie, but could also be considered intimidation in direct violation of federal law resulting in nullification of the vote. Regardless of the outcome, [VW] Management is deeply disappointed in the climate of the South and is considering relocating the plant to a state that is more friendly to the needs of workers. Would be a shame to see these 13K jobs moved to California or even Mexico.”
According to Reuters, “German workers enjoy considerable influence over company decisions under the legally enshrined “co-determination” principle which is anathema to many politicians in the U.S. who see organized labor as a threat to profits and job growth.”
The Chattanooga plant is the only VW factory currently in the US and one of the company’s only plants in the world to operate without the equivalent of a workers union. The plant employs roughly 3200 Volkswagen employees with more than 9500 indirect supplier employees and is expected to increase growth in the state by $12 billion with annual tax revenues of $1.4 billion according to the companies website.