UAW forms Local 42 to represent VW Chattanooga workers

Article by Christian Andrei, on July 12, 2014

The United Auto Workers is forming a union local – Local 42 -- aimed at representing workers at Volkswagen AG’s Chattanooga site in Tennessee. UAW said that membership in Local 42 will be voluntary, adding that it will not have power to bargain on behalf of all of the site’s workers.

UAW officials said that VW would not formally recognize the union until a majority of the site’s employees joins Local 42. UAW President Dennis Williams said in a statement that the union was “gratified to earn the confidence and support” of many Volkswagen workers earlier this year, referring to a close representation election at the site in which it gained 626 ‘Yes’ votes, but failed to overcome 712 ‘No’ vote.

He said UAW is keeping its promise at the time that it would give up on VW’s workers. UAW’s latest move underscores UAW’s seriousness in representing workers at the Chattanooga site, considered at the union’s best chance at organizing a foreign-owned facility in the US South.

UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel disclosed that the union and VW have arrived at a consensus. He said when Local 42 managed to sign up a “meaningful portion” of the plant’s workforce, UAW is confident that the carmaker will recognize Local 42 by dealing with“ VW employees.

Casteel said that as part of an agreement with VW, the union would continue joint efforts with the carmaker to ensure its expansion and growth in Chattanooga. In a statement to Reuters, VW spokesman Scott Neal Wilson said that there is no contract or other formal deal with UAW on the matter.

Dave Smith, a spokesman for Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, said that based on their understanding, there is no agreement between VW and the UAW.

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