Workers at Chattanooga VW Sign Up for New Type of Union Representation

The majority of workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., have signed cards authorizing their affiliation with the UAW and the creation of a German-style "works council" at the plant, according to Gary Casteel, a regional director for UAW. Casteel says that the cards count as a legally binding election and that they include a statement about wanting to join VW's Global Works Council. The union has not put forth a formal timeline for official recognition yet.

In Germany, unions bargain for wages, while works councils handle things specific to individual plants like working conditions. “We’re interested in bringing a new labor model to the U.S.,” he says. “That’s the reason we continue to work on this.”

Most foreign automakers have resisted unions at their plants in the southern United States, reports the Associated Press. Casteel says the UAW is an ally of automakers and that their goal is to boost productivity by working with Volkswagen in a cooperative and collaborative way. “With input from the employees, they can increase their through-put, quality, efficiency, health and safety,” says Casteel.