Thursday, July 10 2014, 06:49 PM EDT
UAW Announces Local 42 to Represent Volkswagen Employees
The UAW today announced the formation of UAW Local 42, a new local union providing representation for employees at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga.
Thursday a spokesman for Gov. Bill Haslam told The Associated Press on Thursday he understands there's no agreement between the UAW and Volkswagen, and that comment would have to come from Volkswagen.
According to the Tennesean newspaper, VW said in a statement that there is no "formal' agreement between the company and the union.
"Just like anywhere else in the world, the establishment of a local organization is a matter for the trade union concerned. There is no contract or other formal agreement with UAW on this matter," the VW statement said.
The UAW was defeated in its efforts to unionize the Volkswagen plant earlier this year.
According to Thursday's release from the UAW, Local 42 is organized by Volkswagen employees, and offers 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.
"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."
Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation, issued an e-mailed statement following the UAW announcment, saying, “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... 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.”
Gary Casteel, the UAW's secretary-treasurer, who previously served as director of UAW Region 8 covering the South, emphasized: "Local 42 will be run by, and for, the employees at Volkswagen."
"We've had ongoing discussions with Volkswagen and have arrived at a consensus with the company," Casteel said. "Upon Local 42 signing up a meaningful portion of Volkswagen's Chattanooga workforce, we're confident the company will recognize Local 42 by dealing with it as a members' union that represents those employees who join the local. As part of this consensus, the UAW is committed to continuing its joint efforts with Volkswagen to ensure the company's expansion and growth in Chattanooga."
UAW officials renewed requests for the State of Tennessee to extend the economic incentives necessary for Volkswagen to add a new product line at the Chattanooga plant, and said the union will continue advocating for increased investment.
"State officials have assured the public and the Volkswagen workforce that the decision on incentives for Chattanooga is not related to whether workers exercise their right to join a union," said Ray Curry, the newly elected director of UAW Region 8. "We are gratified by those assurances, and the state was right to give them."
"Being part of the creation of an American-style works council is a chance to do something new and different," said Michael Cantrell, a Volkswagen paint technician. "This is about securing good jobs for the future of the plant and Chattanooga, and building lasting partnerships between management and team members."