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Mutual support organising US VW plant

19 September, 2013All plants of the German auto manufacturer Volkswagen worldwide are unionised and have a Workers' Representative System. Efforts are turned to the only outstanding plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The delegates of these bodies are members of the Volkswagen World Works Council. This body meets once a year to discuss international issues and management regularly reports to the meeting on the international policy of the company.

Only the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga US is not unionised yet.

But for some time the UAW (the American Autoworkers Union) and the German Works Council at Volkswagen have been working closely together on how to unionise the plant and create a workers representative body at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga US.

In the US a works council can be created only with an agreement with of the union.  

“VW workers in Chattanooga have the unique opportunity to introduce this new model of labour relations to the United States, in partnership with the U.A.W.,” Bob King, president of UAW said.

Volkswagen and U.A.W. officials met in Germany in August to continue previous discussions on how to cooperate in establishing such a system.

Volkswagen has a long tradition in cooperating with unions and the Works Council and therefore Volkswagen has agreed to not oppose any unionisation drive in their plants.

This is a good example in cooperating between different unions to support each other in organising non-unionised plants.

IndustriALL Auto Sector Director Helmut Lense stated:

“In the annual meeting of IndustriALL’s Automotive Working Group we are discussing such possibilities of mutual support and Volkswagen is not the only example.

The colleagues at Mercedes, Volvo, the Japanese Automobile Workers Federation (JAW), colleagues from Ford and GM and others are building networks to support their colleagues in plants far from the headquarters.

That is the way to strengthen unions worldwide and to improve working conditions and workers’ rights.”