Reaction to VW-UAW vote - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Reaction to VW-UAW vote

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The United Auto Workers was rejected at Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant on Friday evening. The National Labor Relations Board conducted the 3-day secret ballot vote, in which 89% of the 1,500 eligible workers participated.

Noting that the results would still need to be certified, Frank Fischer, CEO and Chairman of Volkswagen Chattanooga said,"On behalf of Volkswagen Group of America, I want to thank all of our Chattanooga production and maintenance employees for their participation in this week's vote. They have spoken, and Volkswagen will respect the decision of the majority."

But, VW remains committed to establishing some sort of 'works council,' unique to the US market. "Throughout this process, we found great enthusiasm for the idea of an American-style works council both inside and outside our plant," said Fischer. "Our goal continues to be to determine the best method for establishing a works council in accordance with the requirements of U.S. labor law to meet VW America's production needs and serve our employees' interests."

The battle over the vote on union representation had taken on a life of its own outside of the factory. Politicians and pundits from both sides of the aisle, local and national, were vocal in the last few weeks. But, Sebastian Patta, Vice President for Human Resources at Volkswagen Chattanooga, said, "While there was intense outside interest in this election, our managers and employees inside the plant maintained high quality production and continued to work together in a calm and respectful manner."

What will this contentious fight do to future relations now that this vote has been decided? "Our commitment to Tennessee is a long term investment," Fischer explained. "We look forward to continuing to work with the State of Tennessee and the City of Chattanooga to support job creation, growth, and economic development today and into the future."

Soon after the decision was announced, reaction began coming in to the Eyewitness Newsroom.

In a statement, Ron Harr, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Chamber wrote, "The employees have spoken, and we welcome resolution on this issue both for them and the community as a whole. No matter where you stood going into this election, we encourage everyone to come together around the goal we all share-the creation of more jobs in our community. At the Chamber, we will continue to partner with Volkswagen on the potential expansion and supplier recruitment while also continuing to promote job creation across other industry sectors to keep our local economy strong and diverse."

Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), former Chattanooga Mayor and very vocal with his opposition to the UAW released a statement which read simply, "Needless to say, I am thrilled for the employees at Volkswagen and for our community and its future."

Current Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke Tweeted, "With the vote over, we can return to building middle class and expanding our manufacturing base, including VW."  A few minutes later his office released this statement, "This has always been a decision for VW and their employees. Now that their decision is made, let's focus on what matters most to our community  - bringing more living wage, middle class jobs to Chattanooga."

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