VW works council says will pursue labor representation at U.S. plant

Sun Feb 16, 2014 12:58pm EST
 
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By Jan Schwartz and Andreas Cremer

HAMBURG/BERLIN (Reuters) - Volkswagen's works council said it would press on with efforts to set up labor representation at its Chattanooga, Tennessee plant, undeterred by a workers' vote against any such step involving the United Auto Workers union (UAW).

Employees at the plant, in a region traditionally hostile to organized labor, on Friday opted to reject representation by the union, whose membership has plummeted 75 percent since 1979 and now stands at just under 400,000.

"The outcome of the vote, however, does not change our goal of setting up a works council in Chattanooga," Gunnar Kilian, secretary general of VW's works council, said in a statement on Sunday, adding that workers continued to back the idea of labor representation at the plant.

VW's rise to become one of the top three global carmakers is

intertwined with the influence of labor, whose representatives make up half of the group's 20-member supervisory board.

Under the group's "co-determination" policy, workers have a say over matters affecting work rules and the workplace environment while the consensual structure allows management to draw on labor support in decisions on new products and plants.

Kilian said he would travel to the United States to meet labor law experts and start consulting with them in the next two weeks to "define further steps", adding he would be joined by Frank Patta, secretary general of Volkswagen's global works council.

PARAMOUNT TO UNIONS   Continued...

 
A general view of the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga,Tennessee February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Christopher Aluka Berry