Canadian Manufacturing

Volkswagen sets policy on labour groups at Tennessee plant

Policy stops short of providing pathway toward collective bargaining agreement at Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.



CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.—Management at a Volkswagen AG plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., announced it has established a policy that sets guidelines to interact with labour organizations, but the policy stops short of providing a pathway toward a collective bargaining agreement.

In a statement, the company said its Community Organization Engagement policy would allow labour organizations to have a “constructive dialogue” with company officials based on the percentage of workers who sign up.

The announcement comes two days after the United Auto Workers (UAW) union in Chattanooga predicted that the new policy could lead the company to recognize the union as a bargaining partner without another divisive plant-wide union vote.

It would be the first foreign auto plant in the southern United States with UAW representation.

Members of a group of workers who opposed the UAW in a February election have formed their own labour organization called the American Council of Employees.

The policy doesn’t mention either organization by name.

“We recognize and accept that many of our employees are interested in external representation and we are putting this policy in place so that a constructive dialogue is possible and available for everyone,” Sebastian Patta, the executive vice-president for human resources at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant, said in a release.

The policy would give the labour groups increasing access to meeting facilities and to meetings with management depending on whether they represent 15, 30 or 45 per cent of workers at the plant.

Volkswagen said it will enlist an external auditor to verify membership levels.

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