UAW wants to be exclusive bargaining agent for VW Chattanooga workers

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 24, 2014

The United Workers Union is hoping that it would be recognized as the exclusive bargaining agent for workers at Volkswagen AG's Chattanooga assembly plant in Tennessee within a year. UAW President Dennis Williams told Reuters that he had not set a certain date for the union to represent hourly workers at the site over future talks about wages and benefits.

He said that he hoped the UAW would be recognized to bargaining for the workers by the time contract negotiations with General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group starts next summer.

According to Williams, UAW already has a majority of VW’s 1,500 hourly workers at the site as members of its local union, UAW Local 42. However, the union, still have to prove that it has the number to VW to be formally recognized as the workers' bargaining agent.

UAW Local 42 has already elected officers who will liaise with VW plant officials about recognition. Earlier this year, the UAW suffered a defeat on its bid to organize workers in Chattanooga. VW workers voted 712-to-626 to end the union’s bid, and the UAW complained that anti-union politicians and lobbyists made a fair election impossible.

The union has also set up a union local in Tuscaloosa, Ala., aiming to represent workers at Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz site in the area.

Its progress in Alabama marks a headway in the South, where it has been targeting foreign-owned auto assembly plants to boost its membership numbers. The UAW is hoping that any success in Chattanooga would result to interest from workers at other non-union plants.

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