An audit at the Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, TN has revealed that at least 45 percent of the facility's workers support unionization, leading the German company to grant access rights to the United Auto Workers.

This is a tremendous step in the UAW's long-running and at times contentious pursuit of the workforce at Chattanooga. With this latest move, "local leadership is ready to move forward with additional conversations with the company," the union said in a statement obtained by The Detroit News.

"As a starting point, UAW Local 42 will take advantage of the company's offer to establish bi-weekly meetings with Volkswagen Human Resources and the Volkswagen Chattanooga Executive Committee."

The News reports that UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel, shown above speaking at the Chattanooga plant last summer, claimed these meetings "will remind Human Resources and the Chattanooga Executive Committee 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."

It's important to note that despite Casteel's remarks, this is not a collective-bargaining agreement, Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at University of California, Berkeley, told The News.

"But it is a step in the direction of recognition, which ultimately could lead to collective bargaining. This is not the end point," Shaiken said. "We don't know what's next. We're in unchartered territory."

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