VW workers say UAW bribed employees to sign union cards
By Matt Barbour, Weekend Anchor/Reporter - bio | email
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
The United Auto Worker's efforts at Volkswagen may not be a "done deal" yet. More and more VW employees are speaking out against its tactics. Some say when they signed UAW cards, they were not aware it counted as a vote. They also say UAW bribed workers to sign them.
Local and state leaders, like U.S. Senator Bob Corker, have already voiced concerns over the United Auto Workers setting up shop at VW. They are calling for a secret vote, to avoid peer pressure. And some workers at VW say they want that too.
Channel 3 also spoke with workers on why a union should form at VW.
"When I was approached to sign a card a year and a half ago, it was, 'oh, the card just means you want more information,'" says Carol Wilson.
Carol Wilson is a team leader in VW's paint shop and says the push for UAW at VW has been in the works for a while. She signed a pledge card but asked to revoke it.
"Yes I signed a card. But yes, I got it revoked when I found out it was counted as a vote. Because I wasn't voting," she says.
She and fellow worker, Joe Werner, say they are happy with the pay, communication, and overall working environment at VW. They say one of their concerns is the way they say UAW has gone about getting the cards signed.
"We've heard of tickets to Lake Winnepesaukah and you know, dinner at the motels where the meetings were held," says Joe Werner.
"I know somebody that got nine tickets to go to Lake Winnie to go sign a card," says Wilson.
We took Werner's and Wilson's claims to the Detroit-based public relations director for UAW, Michele Martin. She told us no comment about the UAW talks but did arrange for some pro-union workers to talk to us.
"Co-determination is one of my main goals and also the fact that maybe we would have better job security," says John Wright.
John Wright has worked at VW for almost three years. He says the pay and working conditions are fine but he wants better communication.
"Communication, mainly. A lot of communication between management and employees on how we can better make the company move forward here in the us and have better productivity in the plant," says Wright.
"Without the co-determination, the workers just coming in and working and with co-determination we will have a helping hand in building Volkswagen here in Chattanooga," says Jabbar Ecton.
Jabbar Ecton and Wright say a trip to Lake Winnie was not bribery. Wright also says there was already a majority of cards signed before the trip.
"There was no trading for signatures for cards or any of that going on," says Wright. When asked if the trip was sponsored by UAW, "No, it was sponsored by UAW."
"At Lake Winnie, that was just a family and friends and a day that was offered to everybody within the plant, that wanted to come and go and enjoy yourselves where we could all get together and have fun," says Ecton. But he too, acknowledged the trip was sponsored by UAW.
Wright and Ecton want no further votes since the cards appear to be in the majority.
"That's all we're really looking for is a fair vote," says Werner.
"I really want to have a voice in this," says Wilson.
The national public relations director for UAW, Michele Martin, is apparently not happy with the local media coverage. Channel 3 was copied on an email where she called Chattanooga's UAW coverage,"just horrible." She said the email copy was a mistake and apologized.