VW to allow unions to earn representation

Volkswagen Wednesday told workers at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that it has adopted a new labor policy that gives labor unions the right to represent workers if the unions can prove they have enough members.

The new policy provides labor unions with three possible tiers of representation with increased representation rights at each level.

The levels go from 15 percent to 30 percent and top out at 45 percent. The membership levels must be audited and verified by an outside party selected by Volkswagen.

The UAW has said its local chapter, UAW Local 42, already represents about 750 Volkswagen workers, or about 50 percent of the automaker’s hourly workers at the Chattanooga plant.

The policy is a major victory for the UAW, which has tried, and failed, many times in recent decades to win representation at assembly plants in the South owned by German and Asian automakers.

Still, in Chattanooga, a competing organization that calls itself American Council of Employees also is seeking to be recognized by Volkswagen and plants to file certification papers with the National Labor Relations Board. It has not disclosed how many members it represents.

According to a copy of Volkswagen’s policy, the purpose of the policy is: “to allow eligible organizations the opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue with Volkswagen and its employees.”

A key provision of the policy bars any labor organization from claiming the exclusive right to bargain a contract.

“Any organization which requests recognition as an exclusive bargaining partner must comply fully with the National Labor Relations Act,” the policy says.

According to the policy, labor organizations earn the following rights if they can prove these prove membership levels:

15 percent: Reserve and utilize space in the Conference Center for internal employee meetings on non-work time once per month. Post announcements and information in company-designated locations. Meet monthly with Volkswagen human resources to present topics that are of general interest to their membership.

30 percent: In addition to the Level 1 opportunities above, employees may: Reserve and utilize space in the Conference Center for meetings on non-work time once per week. Invite external representatives of their organization for Conference Center meetings once per month. Post materials on a dedicated/branded posting board.

Meet quarterly with a member of the Volkswagen Chattanooga Executive Committee.

45 percent: In addition to the Level 2 opportunities noted above, organization representatives (internal or external) may: Reserve and utilize on-site locations for meetings on non-work time (with staff and/or employees) as reasonably needed. Meet bi-weekly with Volkswagen Human Resources and monthly with the Volkswagen Chattanooga Executive Committee.

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