VW labor officials warn U.S. government of possible job loss, de - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

VW labor officials warn U.S. government of possible job loss, depending on fines

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UPDATE: There are rumblings the ripple effects of the Volkswagen diesel scandal could include job loss in the U.S. 

The Chattanooga VW plant is the only plant Volkswagen has in the United States. The news came Tuesday morning from the carmaker's top labor official in Germany.  The labor official was speaking at a meeting of 20,000 workers at its German headquarters.

Depending on just how much VW has to pay in fines for its diesel emissions scandal, jobs could be cut in Europe and in Chattanooga. The Chattanooga plant employs more than 2,000 people.

"They've been hurt by 'dieselgate.' The Chattanooga plant sales of the Passat has been hurt by 'dieselgate,'" says Mike Pare.

Volkswagen is still feeling the sting of intentionally installing software in certain diesel cars, designed to cheat emissions testing.

The U.S. Justice Department has sued Volkswagen for up to $46 billion for breaking U.S. environmental laws‎.
"It's almost inconceivable that a world class company would try to cheat on EPA tests," says Mike Pare.

Pare is a business reporter and editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He has covered Volkswagen since before the company set up shop in the Scenic City.
"The city, county, state, have a lot invested in VW's future," says Pare.

VW received more than $500 million in incentives to open the Chattanooga plant and another $300 million to expand.

"On the up side, Volkswagen is continuing to expand to the plant. They're continuing to spend money out there," says Pare.

In response to the possibility of job loss, a spokesperson for the Chattanooga VW plant tells Channel 3, "I can't comment on speculation, but can state that there have been no changes to staff or schedules at Volkswagen Chattanooga. In fact, we continue to ramp up production of our newly redesigned Passat while construction and robot installation continue for the introduction of Volkswagen's first three-row SUV later this year."

Pare thinks VW can over come the PR nightmare, just like other car companies have.
"VW has deep pockets. They're a strong company, financially. They're making money. They're still making money," says Pare.

VW leaders are asking U.S. lawmakers to consider the implications of imposing heavy fines on the company.

We reached out to the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, the governor's office, and the Chattanooga city mayor's office for comment but got no response.

The county mayor's office says it does not want to comment on speculation.

PREVIOUS STORY: European wire services report that german automaker Volkswagen may be forced into cutting jobs in the United States and other countries depending on the amount of fines that will be paid for the company's manipulation of diesel emissions tests.

The news came from the carmaker's top labor official at a meeting of 20,000 workers at its German headquarters Tuesday.

The U.S. Justice Department has sued Volkswagen for up to $46 billion for breaking U.S. environmental laws‎ as customers await a fix for the nearly 600,000 cars affected in the United States some six months after the diesel emissions scandal broke.

READ MORE | VW Emission Scandal

The report says that the possible job cuts depends upon on the level of fines, VW's works councils chairman Bernd Osterloh said on Tuesday at the meeting of workers in Wolfsburg. The meeting was also attended by the carmaker's top managers.

"Should the future viability of Volkswagen be endangered by an unprecedented financial penalty, this will have dramatic social consequences," said Osterloh, who also sits on VW's 20-member supervisory board.

Osterloh called on the U.S. authorities to consider the risk of possible job cuts in deciding on penalties.

Europe's largest automaker employs over 600,000 people at around 120 factories worldwide, including 270,000 in Germany. 

Volkswagen Chattanooga employs over 2,000 people.

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