Volkswagen-Chattanooga: Life After the UAW Vote
What's next for Volkswagen?
Everybody is still talking about the close defeat the United Auto Workers Union suffered at the company's only factory in America.
The issue of employee representation at V-W is not dead however. In fact last Friday's narrow "No" vote almost guarantees an alternative that the company is considering on its own.
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said he understands that Volkswagen believes an American-style works council is a competitive advantage for the company.
"They're the ones who make the cars, not me," says Mayor Berke. "I think they're going to continue to find what works for them."
Volkswagen Chattanooga Chief Executive Officer Frank Fischer made it clear after the vote last Friday night that what works for the company instead of the U-A-W, could be a committee of employees working with management on the day-to-day operations of the factory.
It is based on the works council that V-W has at its plants in Germany and around the world.
"Our goal remains to determine the best method to establishing a works council that serves our employees' interests and Volkswagen-America's production needs, in accordance with U.S. law," Fischer said at the news conference after the vote last Friday.
Right now, U-S law is the issue. Works councils are illegal in America, unless the V-W workers vote in a union.
Although they passed on the United Auto Workers Union, industry watchers like Sean McAlinden with the Center for Automotive Research say other unions could court the Volkswagen workers. However McAlinden questions whether a union OR a works council would be better than a top-notch, human resources department.
"I don't think you can allow a council to make changes in job descriptions, occupations, pay, holidays, personal time issues, things like that."
McAlinden said in his opinion, right now the Volkswagen workers would be best served to let the issue of works councils and unions rest for a while, giving both sides a chance to weigh any and all options.
The next big announcement for Volkswagen could be where its new S-U-V will be built. Chattanooga is being considered for that, along with V-W's huge facility in Mexico.
By Calvin Sneed
More Business News
Last Update on September 04, 2015 07:33 GMT
ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Today's Labor Department jobs report for August, a key gauge of how the U.S. economy is doing, could play a big role in guiding an upcoming decision by the Federal Reserve. The Fed will decide this month whether it will raise U.S. interest rates for the first time since the financial crisis.
While chances of a September interest rate increase have diminished because of signs of weakening global growth and a sell-off in Chinese stocks, many believe the growing U.S. economy may be ready to withstand higher interest rates.
Economists are forecasting that employers created 220,000 jobs last month and that the unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent.
The Fed's two-day meeting begins Sept. 16.
STAR WARS MARKETING
NEW YORK (AP) -- The release of the new Star Wars movie may still be months off, but Disney is unleashing its full marketing "Force" behind the launch of hundreds of toys and other items related to the film.
The massive marketing blitz, which Disney has named "Force Friday," spans all kinds of media and included an 18-hour global "unboxing" streamed live on YouTube. Meanwhile, major toy retailers planned to be open and hold special events when the toys first became available just after midnight Friday.
The marketing push behind "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens," is unique because it's so far ahead of the movie's U.S. release, 116 days to be exact. But analysts say it can work because Star Wars is such a popular franchise.
KRAFT HEINZ-EXPANDED RECALL
NEW YORK (AP) -- Kraft Heinz is expanding a recall of Kraft Singles products, saying a problem with the packaging film affects 10 times as many cases as it first thought.
The company recalled 335,000 cases Thursday because a thin strip of packaging film may stick to the slice after the wrapper has been taken off, creating a choking hazard. Kraft Heinz took 36,000 cases off the market July 31 for the same reason.
The privately-held company said it's received two new reports of customers choking. It disclosed three such reports in July.
The recall covers 1-, 3- and 4-pound Kraft Singles American and White American cheese product sold in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and 10 other countries and territories. The cases have "Best When Used by Dates" from Dec. 29 through Jan. 4.
HIDDEN GULF SPILL
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Environmental groups have signed a settlement agreement to resolve their lawsuit against a New Orleans company that has failed to end a decade-old oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.
The agreement was filed Thursday in federal court. Taylor Energy Company announced details of the pact in a news release last week, before it was finalized.
The New York-based Waterkeeper Alliance says the company will release more information about its efforts to stop oil from leaking at the site where one of its offshore platforms toppled during Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
Taylor Energy also agreed to donate $300,000 to a Louisiana marine research consortium and pay an additional $100,000 for research on the ecological effects of Gulf oil pollution.
The alliance sued the company in 2012 over its secretive response.
DALLAS (AP) -- Southwest Airlines says it has reached an agreement with union negotiators on terms for a new contract with pilots, whose approval would be needed before it takes effect.
Terms weren't disclosed on Thursday.
Leaders of the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association are expected to meet later this month to decide whether to hold a ratification vote. Southwest Vice President Craig Drew says the process is far from complete but the company is pleased to have this agreement.
Southwest has about 8,000 pilots. It's the nation's fourth-biggest airline, and 83 percent of its workers are represented by unions, according to a recent regulatory filing.
Shares of Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co. fell 29 cents to close at $37.43. They have fallen 12 percent this year.
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