Volkswagen Group and United Auto Workers have commenced high-level discussions on how the union might represent workers at VW's Chattanooga site in Tennessee, according to a report in Handelsblatt. The daily reported, citing unnamed sources, that Horst Neumann, board member for human resources at VW, and UAW President Bob King were present during a meeting that commenced Aug. 31, 2013, at the carmaker’s corporate headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.
The daily reported that the meeting discussed establishing a German-style works council to represent workers at the Chattanooga site. The German carmaker takes pride in its works council model, wherein blue-collar and white-collar workers are all entitled to vote for plant-level representatives who will decide working conditions in collaboration with executives.
Those councils will likewise choose the members of a global works council, which in turn has a say over major business decisions like constructing a new site, product launches, and production locations. Top executives at VW said that there is a need to bring in an outside union like the UAW to comply with US labor law before the works council in Chattanooga is established.
So far, the site remains the only VW assembly plant without a works council. Neumann remarked in March that the UAW would be “the natural partner" noting its ties with IG Metall, which represents most VW workers in Germany. According to Handelsblatt, one of those who attended the meeting was Bernd Osterloh, the head of the global works council that represents all other VW sites in the world. [source: automotive news - sub. required]