Our fight for collective bargaining received a hearing 4,500 miles away and across the Atlantic Ocean at the annual meeting of Volkswagen shareholders held May 10 in Hannover, Germany. Local 42 President Steve Cochran delivered a clear and unequivocal message to the gathering: Volkswagen is operating in violation of its own principles and the demands of its employee unions around the world in failing to meet us at the collective bargaining table.
Cochran’s remarks came in support of a motion made by the union to deny approval of the actions of the Volkswagen board. Of course there was no expectation that the motion would pass since only holders of original stock are entitled to vote at this meeting. A majority of those shares are held by members of the Porsche and Piëch families. But by addressing the shareholders in this meeting and responding to inquiries from the German press, we were able to get the truth out to a wider audience, and more importantly, on Volkswagen’s home turf. Volkswagen believes that they can keep their illegal actions and their alliance with anti-union politicians confined to Tennessee.
As word of our situation receives wider attention among Volkswagen investors and customers, pressure grows on Volkswagen to face its responsibilities. Just as the strategy to stall and delay was misguided in the diesel scandal, it is also a failing strategy in Chattanooga.