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UPDATE: Corker's office weigh in on UAW announcment

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Sen. Bob Corker. AP photo Sen. Bob Corker. AP photo
UAW officials announce the formation of Local 42 Thursday. WRCBtv.com photo UAW officials announce the formation of Local 42 Thursday. WRCBtv.com photo
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: Sen. Bob Corker’s office weighed in Friday on the UAW announcement.

In an emailed news release, Todd Womack, Corker’s chief of staff said

“There has been some confusion about what happened yesterday related to the UAW’s announcement that they are opening an office in Chattanooga and its impact on Volkswagen's expansion considerations,” said Womack.

“The fact is, nothing happened. Any union can rent space in any city and open an office. Volkswagen made it very clear in their statement that they have no agreement whatsoever with the UAW."


PREVIOUS STORY: The United Auto Workers’ decision to create Local 42 at Volkswagen in Chattanooga is a historic move for UAW. It gives the organization a foot inside a foreign plant in the south—Something that’s never been done before.
“We’re confident the company will recognize Local 42 by dealing with its members as a member union,” UAW Secretary Treasurer Gary Casteel said.

UAW says they’ve reached a “consensus” with Volkswagen to establish Local 42, but officials with VW told the Tennessean they will not recognize the union until a majority of employees join.

“We’ve had many discussions and interactions with VW since then, they’re fully aware of this happening and they were fully engaged in the discussion about it,” Casteel added.

Fifteen employees signed a charter Thursday creating the local chapter. UAW says members will have the same rights as other UAW members and they chapter will develop their own bi-laws and elect their own officers.

“Now that we are moving forward, it’s not a question of are we moving forward, we need to get moving forward instead of standing around waiting a little bit more,” Local 42 member Jonathan Walden said.

Local 42 will not have any bargaining power until it is recognized.

Just five months ago, employees voted against unionizing. Casteel says that’s because of third party interference.

“All of the interference came from the outside. There’s no sense in going through that process again. We have a consensus with VW,” he added.

Local 42 members seem to be optimistic, saying it won’t be long before they have the majority on their side.

“I think we’ll to the work we need to do. VW will recognize that and then we’ll start a truly collaborative partnership with them,” Walden said.

Employees are not required to join this union.

UAW officials said Thursday they will not collect dues until 30 days after their first collective bargaining agreement is reached.

Politicians who have previously been vocal on this topic have kept pretty quiet.

We reached out to Senator Bob Corker and Governor Bill Haslam on this matter, their camps say they’re waiting for an official statement from VW.


PREVIOUS STORY:  In light of today’s news regarding the UAW in Chattanooga, Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation, issued the following statement: 

“Before VW Chattanooga workers sign up for the UAW’s new local they should understand fully what they are signing up for. There is a long history of union organizers getting workers to sign up under false pretenses.

“Today the UAW might say there are no union dues, but tomorrow that may change and failure to pay could mean the union sending your name to a collection agency. Maybe today it seems that local 42 is just a voluntary organization, but someday soon the UAW may use your membership card in order to get the union recognized for every worker in the plant so it can move for Detroit-style collective bargaining without ever holding a secret ballot vote.  Workers should know that if they sign up, they become subject to union discipline that could include expensive fines if they speak out against the union, sometimes as high as five figures.

“Union organizers never tell people the downsides of unionizing so it is imperative that workers consider these things before signing anything. It is a hundred times easier to not sign a card at all than to try and get a signed card back later because you regret the decision.”


PREVIOUS STORY: On Thursday, UAW announced the formation of UAW Local 42, a new local union providing representation for employees at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga.

“Earlier this year, the UAW was gratified to earn the confidence and support of many Volkswagen team members,” said Dennis Williams, president of the UAW. “At that time, we said we would not give up on these committed and hard-working employees. We’re keeping our promise.”

Gary Casteel, the UAW’s secretary-treasurer, who previously served as director of UAW Region 8 covering the South, said “Local 42 will be run by, and for, the employees at Volkswagen.”

Local 42 will offer workers the opportunity for a voice in the workplace through the German automaker’s “works council” approach to employee engagement.

Volkswagen’s business model is premised on employee representation, and Local 42 will represent any interested employees who join the local as members. No employees will be required to join.

Additionally, Local 42 members pledged to get involved in the community, as UAW members have done in other communities across the country — to support charitable causes, youth programs and other local needs.

“I see Local 42 as an opportunity to give back to Chattanooga and southeast Tennessee. As our membership grows, people are going to see us very active in this community,” said Myra Montgomery, a quality inspector in the Volkswagen plant. 

Workforce development is considered to be a top priority among Local 42 members. They have agreed to work with Volkswagen and the UAW to organize job-training opportunities so that employees can continually expand their skills as new technologies emerge and manufacturing processes change.

“Having access to the UAW’s expertise and support will keep the plant competitive and will keep our workforce on the cutting edge of productivity and quality.The members of Local 42 are ready to roll up our sleeves and focus on the future,” said Jonathan Walden, who works in the Volkswagen plant’s paint department. 

Casteel said the Local 42, will develop their own bi-laws, elect their own officers and the formation process will be defined in their own constitution.

Casteel also said Local 42, is independent of the UAW and the reason the UAW is not apart of it is because there is no opportunity for a third party to take participate.   

Williams said it's important to our country and community that employees have a true voice in the workplace and representation because it makes our communities grow.  

Williams said, Local 42 will self govern and be like any other union and he also said he makes no hesitation in thinking that they will contribute to the community and collectively engage with their employer.



PREVIOUS STORY: The United Auto Workers union will hold a news conference today in Chattanooga, where they are expected to announce a new development in the employee representation at the Volkswagen Chattanooga plant.

A Nashville television station is reporting today that the United Auto Workers Union is expected to announce the creation of a local UAW chapter to represent Volkswagen workers at the Chattanooga assembly facility.

 The report was confirmed by UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel to the Tennessean newspaper in Nashville.

This news comes as speculation grows about a works council being formed at the German automaker’s U.S. facility.

Works councils and unions both represent rank-and-file workers, but differ slightly in that unions require dues to be paid and are independent of the business; works councils are considered to be part of the business.

Politicians’ opinions differ on whether Volkswagen should unionize.

Sen. Bob Corker, former mayor of Chattanooga, was part of the initial movement to woo Volkswagen to Chattanooga. He has spoke out against the unionization of the Volkswagen workers.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has said the state has had positive discussions with VW officials about works council and how they could benefit VW Chattanooga.

Also in the mix is the long-awaited decision about where Volkswagen will build their new seven-set SUV vehicle, which is  destined for the American market.

Both the Chattanooga facility as well and Volkswagen’s Mexico plant are considered to be viable sites to build the SUV.

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