Volkswagen Union

The fight for the Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant to create a works council is far from over, despite employees rejecting a bid to join the United Auto Workers on February 15. While the UAW is appealing the vote, labor leaders at VW's Tennessee factory are working on alternatives to create a council without UAW members, and some of the opposition to the union actually support the new plan, according to Automotive News.

By trying to join the UAW, the Chattanooga workers who supported organization had been attempting to clear the way for them to gain a seat on VW's Global Works Council which meets at VW's corporate headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany. There were two solutions: create their own union or join an existing one. Sitting on the Global Works Council is vital because it plays a role in determining future production location and labor rules, and Chattanooga is rare among VW factories because it is the only facility outside of China and Russia that does not operate under a works council. Within the Tennessee facility, a works council would would help blue- and white-collar workers to vote and negotiate on rules changes.

Provided any applicable legal hurdles can be cleared, representatives on both sides of the issue seem to see the council as a possibility. "We are committed to our goal of establishing a works council in Chattanooga," said Gunnar Kilian, secretary general of the VW Global Works Council, to Automotive News. Even US Senator Bob Corker, who was vehemently against unionization, reportedly only opposes the UAW in the plant, not necessarily a works council.

If the latest attempts are successful, it would be quite a compromise. Workers would get some measure of representation both locally and at VW headquarters, and Senator Corker could theoretically claim victory by keeping the UAW out of the factory.