Volkswagen and the United Auto Workers union are now one step closer to achieving a deal that would see VW’s plant in Chattanooga, TN become unionized. If it happens, it would be the first major victory in recent years for the UAW at a plant in the United States run by a foreign automaker. The UAW had formerly represented workers at VW’s Westmoreland plant in Pennsylvania, which first opened in 1978 and is now closed. At present, the only non-Domestic facility in the States that is unionized is the Mitsubishi plant in Normal, IL.
While neither side is officially commenting, Automotive News Europe, citing a story in German newspaper Handelsblatt, reports that a meeting was held last Friday between plant officials and Bob King, president of the UAW. Negotiations are reportedly underway that would see a so-called German-style works council formed. This council would allow both blue-collar and white-collar employees to elect representatives that would have a say in any significant plant discussion.
VW’s Chattanooga plant is the only facility the automaker operates in the whole world that isn’t represented by a union of some sort, and US labor law apparently requires that an outside body, such as the UAW, be involved in any such negotiations. Horst Neumann, the board member for human resources at VW, said in March that “The UAW would be a natural partner,” but that any deal would “depend on negotiations.” It would seem those negotiations are now underway in earnest.