11/30/15:Berthold Huber, who served as interim chairman of the Volkswagen Supervisory Board through leadership transitions during 2015, has expressed his support for skilled trades employees to form a collective bargaining unit at the company’s plant in Chattanooga.
- Thursday, December 3, 2015, from 6:00 a.m.-9:30 a.m. and from 3:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
- Friday, December 4, 2015, from 6:00 a.m.-9:30 a.m. and from 6:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
11/13/2015: Hollywood actor Danny Glover toured Chattanooga’s Volkswagen plant today and met with members of UAW Local 42 to show support for efforts to achieve meaningful employee representation.
Volkwagen’s Chattanooga plant is the company’s only facility in the world that is not represented on the Volkwagen Global Group Works Council, the powerful body of employee leaders from around the world.
“I believe in the idea that worker representation is important and a viable and essential concept,” Glover told the Chattanooga Times Free Press before meeting with Local 42 members.
Glover, a longtime labor supporter, has been working on a feature film in Atlanta and readily accepted an invitation by Local 42 to visit Chattanooga.
Unions have “been a part of my life,” Glover told the newspaper. Best known for his role in the “Lethal Weapon” films, Glover has been a union member as an actor and his parents were in the U.S. Postal Service union. “I believe in the idea of representation and collective bargaining,” he said.
10/23/2015: UAW Local 42 today filed paperwork with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seeking a representation election for employees in the maintenance, or skilled trades, unit of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant.
“A key objective for our local union always has been, and still is, moving toward collective bargaining for the purpose of reaching a multi-year contract between Volkswagen and employees in Chattanooga,” said Mike Cantrell, president of Local 42. “We support our colleagues in the skilled trades as they move toward formal recognition of their unit.”
Federal law provides for units within a workforce to seek recognition for the purpose of achieving collective bargaining. The NLRB describes collective bargaining as an effort between an employer and employees to “bargain in good faith about wages, hours, vacation time, insurance, safety practices and other subjects.”
Collective bargaining is a common practice between employees and employers in the U.S. On Wednesday, the Local 42 membership voted overwhelmingly to support a proposal by skilled trades employees to seek a representation election. No further decisions have been made at this time by the Local 42 membership.
In December 2014, Local 42 secured limited considerations under Volkswagen’s Community Organization Engagement policy. Under the policy, which is unique to the company’s Chattanooga facility, the local union meets regularly with plant managers regarding matters of concern to employees such as shift scheduling. Earlier this month, the company re-verified Local 42’s membership at the highest level under the policy.
Local 42 has strong support among blue-collar workers in the Chattanooga plant — the only Volkswagen facility in the world that remains unrepresented on the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, the influential body of Volkswagen employee leaders from around the world.
“Volkswagen’s policy in Chattanooga was a gesture and our local union has engaged accordingly,” said Gary Casteel, secretary-treasurer of the UAW International union and director of the union’s Transnational Department. “At the end of the day, the policy cannot be a substitute for meaningful employee representation and co-determination with management.”
Casteel added: “The international union will provide ongoing technical assistance to the local union as it strives toward collective bargaining and its rightful seat on the Global Group Works Council.”
Casteel and Cantrell both emphasized that the timing of the skilled trades filing with the NLRB is unrelated to the Volkswagen emissions scandal.
“We have said from the beginning of Local 42 that there are multiple paths to reach collective bargaining,” Cantrell said. “We have been considering this option for some time. All options have been, and will remain, on the table.”
TIMELINE: UAW LOCAL 42
July 2014: Volkswagen employees form UAW Local 42, a new local union providing representation for employees at the company’s Chattanooga plant. Four days later, Volkswagen announces the creation of 2,000 new jobs through the addition of a new mid-size SUV product line at the Chattanooga plant.
September 2014: The Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, German trade union IG Metall, and the UAW sign a letter of intent declaring their joint desire for Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant to be a “UAW-represented facility.”
December 2014: Volkswagen verifies UAW Local 42’s membership at the highest level under the company’s new three-tier Community Organization Engagement policy. Local union leaders initiate biweekly meetings with the Volkswagen Human Resources and monthly meetings with the Volkswagen Chattanooga Executive Committee to discuss matters of concern to employees.
April 2015: In a filing with the U.S. Department of Labor, UAW Local 42 demonstrates that its membership constitutes a majority of Volkswagen’s blue-collar workforce in Chattanooga.
May 2015: UAW Local 42 advances a “vision statement” for establishing a German-style works council at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant. The 36-page document, based on a framework agreed to by the UAW and Volkswagen in early 2014, outlines a path for meaningful co-determination between employees and management. To date, Volkswagen has not responded to the vision statement.
9/24/2015: The UAW today released the following statement from Gary Casteel, secretary-treasurer of the UAW and head of the union’s transnational department, regarding the Volkswagen emissions scandal:
“Like the rest of the nation and the world, we are troubled by findings of software manipulations in Volkswagen Group diesel cars that violate U.S. environmental standards. The international union and UAW Local 42 at Volkswagen in Chattanooga are fully committed to clean air and environmental sustainability. We’re glad Volkswagen management stepped forward and pledged to clearly, openly, and completely establish the facts of this case. We believe transparency is the key to resolving this crisis, and that through transparency Volkswagen will be able to emerge as a stronger and more responsible manufacturer. We have communicated to the company that the international union and Local 42 stand ready to assist with any forthcoming recall or other efforts.”
5/7/2015: The UAW today released the following statement from Gary Casteel, secretary-treasurer of the UAW and head of the union’s transnational department, regarding the progress of UAW Local 42 at Volkswagen in Chattanooga:
“UAW Local 42, with advice and counsel from the International union, is advancing a German-style works council concept that we jointly developed with Volkswagen Group of America in January 2014. The original concept, agreed to by UAW and Volkswagen officials as part of a larger election agreement, outlined a framework through which the union and the company could together establish a path for management and employees to cooperate on matters inside the plant.
“A more detailed version of this concept, in the form of a proposed ‘Vision Statement,’ has been submitted to the company for its consideration. Volkswagen’s top labor officials, including Berthold Huber, acting chairman of the Volkswagen Supervisory Board, have noted that a works council can only exist under U.S. law with the involvement of a union — and they have said the union in Chattanooga should be the UAW. The Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, the influential organization of employee leaders from around the world, has expressed its desire for Chattanooga to be a ‘UAW-represented facility.’
“With UAW Local 42 now representing a clear majority of the blue-collar workforce in the Chattanooga plant, we believe the time has come to resume the works council talks that we began with management more than a year ago. We look forward to productive conversations with the company about the future of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga operations.”
For more information, read the UAW-Volkswagen Works Council Documents
4/13/2015: UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel, who serves as director of the union’s International Department, today joined well-known actor Danny Glover and a top leader of the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council in briefing international supporters on the progress of UAW Local 42 in Chattanooga.
Speaking to delegates at a labor conference in Sao Paulo Brazil, Casteel described how Volkswagen employees in Chattanooga “did not give up” despite outside interference in 2014 and even quoted Local 42 member Chris Brown, who told media outlets that “last year’s experience only made us stronger.”
After Volkswagen employees established Local 42 in July 2014, the local union quickly signed up a majority of the blue-collar workforce in the Chattanooga plant and earned the confidence of the Volkswagen Global Group and IG Metall, which jointly expressed their desire for Chattanooga to be a “UAW-represented facility.” Volkswagen soon verified Local 42’s membership at the highest level under a new company policy. Now, local union leaders are in regular talks with Volkswagen plant management regarding matters of concern to employees.
“The members of our UAW local union are on a path to join their Volkswagen co-workers from around the world in securing a voice in the workplace,” Casteel said to loud applause from hundreds of attendees at the CNM/CUT Congress. Members of CNM/CUT, the Brazilian metalworkers union, have been closely monitoring developments in Chattanooga due to Volkswagen’s strong presence in Brazil.
After the speech, Casteel and Glover, a leading champion of workers rights, joined Volkswagen Global Group Vice President Valdir Freire Dias (better known by his nickname “Chalita”) in touring Volkswagen’s Achieta facility. On the tour, they sported Local 42’s signature blue shirts, to the delight of the carmaker’s Brazilian team members.