VW Chattanooga plant union votes to approve collective bargaining

The United Auto Workers has won another victory at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee plant. Local 42, a group of 162 skilled-trades workers that the UAW won the right to represent last December, voted heavily in favor of collective bargaining during a ballot held over December 3 and 4. Volkswagen tried to prevent the referendum, and appealed to the National Labor Relations Board to compel the UAW to include all of the plant's 1,400 production and maintenance workers in the vote, but the NLRB ruled against the automaker. The employees in Local 42, charged with the upkeep of machinery and robots, voted 108-44 in support of collective bargaining rights. VW said it plans to appeal the NLRB decision allowing the vote.

In December 2014 the United Auto Workers gained a foothold in Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee factory by establishing Local 42, after the UAW lost a vote to represent the entire Chattanooga workforce when employees came out against. The UAW sought collective bargaining rights for Local 42, VW countering that it didn't want different groups of workers with different rights and different representation. VW says it wants a setup akin to the Works Council employed in Germany that includes all hourly and salaried employees. The plant is also home to the American Council of Employees, which describes itself as "an independent employee council created to ensure that all VW Chattanooga employees have a voice on the Volkswagen Global Works Council." The ACE also criticized the UAW vote.

For the UAW, though, this is just another small step in its quest to unionize all the autoworkers at plants in the South owned by foreign carmakers - a quest it has been denied for decades. President of Local 42 Mike Cantrell (pictured) remarked on the vote, "We have said from the beginning of Local 42 that there are multiple paths to reach collective bargaining, and we believe these paths will give all of us a voice at Volkswagen in due time."

Share This Photo X