Unions from Poland, Germany, UK, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, the U.S., and Switzerland convened in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to show solidarity for workers at the local Volkswagen plant. The German auto manufacturer is defying a court ruling and continues to deny workers their legal right to organize.
In December 2015, an overwhelming majority of more than 70 per cent of the skilled-trades workers voted to be represented by IndustriALL affiliate United Autoworkers (UAW). Yet VW Chattanooga is refusing to bargain with UAW Local 42, even after the U.S. government has ordered the company to enter into negotiations.
IndustriALL General Secretary Valter Sanches says:
“Volkswagen not recognizing UAW in this case is illegal, violates workers’ fundamental rights, and violates the Global Framework Agreement they signed with us in 2002. Many of us have raised concern with VW about this, but the company’s bad behavior continues.”
For two days, IndustriALL affiliates representing VW workers around the world met to exchange information on VW labour relations and show solidarity with VW workers in Chattanooga.
The meeting took place after a resolution, Holding Volkswagen Accountable, was passed at IndustriALL’s Congress in Rio de Janeiro in October 2015.
Concerns were raised over a lack of safety culture and constant shift-changes in the factory, with workers sometimes forced to work for 10 – 11 hours per day, for up to 13 days in a row. Overtime may be ordered at the end of a shift, meaning workers do not know what time they will be home when they leave for work.
Although UAW Local 42 still is not recognized by management, the union continues to recruit new members. Unions participating at the meeting committed to support the struggle and bring attention to VW’s union-busting in Chattanooga.
“We will continue to seek dialog with VW at all levels in an attempt to get the company to end its union-busting in Chattanooga and enter into negotiations for a first collective bargaining agreement with UAW Local 42,” says Gary Casteel, UAW Secretary Treasurer.
“We will not quit until Volkswagen recognizes us.”