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Union Leaders From VW Overseas Plants Visit Chattanooga

Union representatives from Volkswagen plants in Mexico, Poland, Brazil, South Africa and the United Kingdom – as well as a large contingent from Local 42 – met in Chattanooga on April 12 and 13 to exchange information on Volkswagen’s labor practices and establish common ground for collective action. IG Metall, the union for Volkswagen employees in Germany, sent representatives from their national office. The meeting was convened by IndustriALL, the global union of auto workers around the world.

Local 42 Acting President Steve Cochran and Recording Secretary Dave Gleeson shared the history of our plant, the anti-union campaign surrounding the 2014 vote, the successful maintenance vote in December 2015, and Volkswagen’s refusal to negotiate a first collective bargaining agreement. Our overseas guests described their unions’ relationship with the company in their plants, and expressed shock at Volkswagen’s actions. A representative from Brazil said it reminded him of VW’s behavior during that country’s military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.

Before leaving Chattanooga to return to their plants, the representatives unanimously agreed on a series of actions, including

  • Educating VW workers at overseas locations on Volkswagen’s behavior in Chattanooga;
  • Raising our dispute with VW plant managers around the world;
  • Taking action at IndustriALL’s upcoming Executive Committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland;
  • Raising VW’s union-busting at the VW Global Works Council meeting in August.