A top official of a German union will explain in early June to the hourly employees at the U.S. facility of Volkswagen that his group will not pressure them to join the UAW, the vehicle manufacturer's top labor representative disclosed. The UAW is banking greatly on the IG Metall to assist it in organizing German-owned U.S. facilities because this German union has influence with VW management.
IG Metall has members on the works council of VW. Although the VW works council backs the UAW's efforts to organize workers at the company's Chattanooga facility in Tennessee, it will not use its influence to help the U.S. union, Works Council Chief Bernd Osterloh assured. This council is the labor complement to company management, and has representatives from all the plants and brands in the VW group.
Osterloh said that they will support the UAW, adding that they have "said that all along" but emphasizing that they "can't take workers at VW Chattanooga by the hand when it comes to voting" on UAW representation. Osterloh said that works council general secretary Frank Patta will outline the position of the labor group to the workers at the Tennessee factory in early June. UAW officials did not comment on Osterloh's statements.
UAW President Bob King has repeatedly stated that the future success of his union depends on organizing the U.S. plants of foreign automakers such as Japan's Nissan Motor Co. and Daimler's Mercedes.
However, many of those facilities are found in the South, where union membership levels are lower and anti-union perceptions are stronger. Executives at VW have reiterated that it depends on the plant workers whether the UAW represents them, a stance plant spokesperson Guenther Scherelis related. VW manufactures the Passat sedan in Tennessee.