UPDATE: VW Chattanooga sets union guidelines, UAW responds
By WRCB Staff
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
UPDATE: Volkswagen Chattanooga has established a “Community Organization Engagement” policy which sets guidelines for interactions with labor organizations whose membership includes a significant percentage of Volkswagen Chattanooga employees.
According to a news release, an organization is defined as existing for the primary purpose of representing employees and their interests to employers consistent with the National Labor Relations Act.
In February, 2014, VW employees voted against representation by the United Auto Workers by a 712 - 626 vote.
A local chapter of the UAW was formed in Chattanooga, and as of late August, had signed up enough members to carry a majority vote should there be another referendum.
Volkswagen's policy establishes a base to assure fair and equal treatment of groups, using a process the automaker describes as “transparent, respectful and consistent.”
“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 dialog is possible and available for everyone,” said Sebastian Patta, EVP of HR for Volkswagen Chattanooga.
“Volkswagen has a long tradition of positive employee engagement at our plants around the world and we welcome this in our company,” Patta said.
An external auditor will be engaged to verify the percentage of a particular group's employee membership to determine what level of engagement has been reached.
“Of course, any employee can approach Volkswagen at any time with an idea or a concern. But we wanted to extend these additional opportunities to groups of employees who want to talk with Volkswagen about issues of common interest,” said Ryan Rose, General Manager for HR Operations.
Gary Casteel, secretary-treasurer of the UAW, released a statement Wednesday that said:
"We appreciate Volkswagen's effort to articulate a policy for how it will engage with UAW Local 42 and its members in Chattanooga. We have questions about this policy, which we'll work through in discussions with management. But this is a step forward in building stronger relations between management and employees. "Today, we will begin working with Volkswagen so the company can verify our substantial membership level, which now is in excess of a majority of workers at the plant. When that verification has been completed, we will take advantage of the company's offer to establish regular meetings with Volkswagen Human Resources and the Volkswagen Chattanooga Executive Committee. In the first conversations that will occur, we will remind them of the mutually agreed-upon commitments that were made by Volkswagen and the UAW last spring in Germany. Among those commitments: Volkswagen will recognize the UAW as the representative of our members. We believe Volkswagen made this commitment in good faith and we believe the company will honor this commitment. Additionally, we will present the Chattanooga plant management with the September letter of intent in which the influential Volkswagen Global Group Works Council expressed its desire for the Chattanooga plant to be a 'UAW-represented facility.' "Looking ahead: A cornerstone of Volkswagen’s business model is employee representation and participation in the Global Group Works Council. Until now, Chattanooga has been the only plant not represented on the Global Group Works Council. With UAW Local 42, Volkswagen's employees in Tennessee now can join their fellow team members from around the world in securing a voice in the workplace. The members of UAW Local 42 are excited about the future and stand ready to roll up their sleeves and make Chattanooga a continued success for Volkswagen."