Large German labor union IG Metall has partnered with the United Auto Workers to launch the Transnational Partnership Initiative, a program that calls for better pay and working conditions at the U.S. plants of German car makers, which employ some 100,000 people. The unions say the industry's shift toward the South has come with a deterioration in the quality of life for many of its workers.
The push for a German-style works council at the VW factory in Chattanooga, Tenn., has been the UAW’s highest profile effort to organize workers at a foreign-owned plant in the southern U.S. recently.
The effort has drawn the UAW to the powerful IG Metall trade union, whose former boss Berthold Huber was named interim chairman of VW AG’s supervisory board following the resignation of Ferdinand Piech last spring. Huber has been a vocal proponent of the UAW’s organizing drive at the VW’s Tennesee factory, urging workers in a 2013 letter to join the union, Reuters reported at the time.
Looking to keep your German sharp? Here's IG Metall's release on the topic.
Executives at Nissan have declined a State Department offer to mediate a dispute between the automaker and the United Auto Workers and IndustriALL Global Union, which contend the company is violating international labor laws at its Canton, Mississippi, complex. Company officials say they are focused on complying with U.S. labor laws and the structures organized by the National Labor Relations Board.
The State Department wrote that it "determined that the issues raised by UAW/IndustriALL are material and substantiated and merit further examination," but also said that if Nissan had chosen to mediate, that shouldn't be taken as an admission of guilt.
Leaders of the United Auto Workers say they plan to launch a local union for workers at Volkswagen's factory in Chattanooga, where it lost an organizing vote earlier this year. VW officials say there has been no formal agreement between the company and the union, which both have said they want to work more closely via a works council in Chattanooga.
From the Wall Street Journal's story on the UAW's plans:
The strategy raises questions about the long-term potential of a local union office that initially serves as a works council without bargaining rights. In theory, if that office grew large enough, management could recognize it as a bargaining unit for the purpose of contract negotiations, and any deal reached would apply to other workers, whether or not they were in the union.
Union officials have scheduled a news conference for 3 p.m. today.
Via Blake Farmer at WPLN, the UAW has dropped its National Labor Relations Board challenge over the organizing vote at the Chattanooga plant, calling the process flawed.
Casteel calls the National Labor Relations Board review a “toothless tiger.” He points to one other time the UAW was able to get a new election that way. It took six years.
A check of authorization cards the UAW claimed it gathered prior to the vote to unionize at Volkswagen can be "influenced in a lot of different ways" and not necessarily portray how employees feel, Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday. More on what he thinks of talk that the car company might let the UAW in anyway.
United Auto Workers members in Spring Hill last week voted to approve with General Motors a new contract that will bring another 384 jobs here. The new positions cover a variety of work and are on top of the 1,800 people GM said this summer it planned to hire locally. The agreement — see the highlights here — also sets the stage for Spring Hill to receive two new "core products" — and presumably, some more jobs — in the near future. Local 1853 Shop Chairman Mike Herron tells Chambers Williams there's no way to tell when that will be and that it will happen "when the company decides the timing is right."
General Motors is preparing to send more work to its Spring Hill manufacturing complex. Tim Hodge at the Daily Herald reports that the auto giant plans to add a second shift to its engine plant in Maury County. The move means another 100 people will by next fall be cranking out four-cylinder Ecotec engines.
Mike Herron, United Auto Workers Local 1853 bargaining chairman, said the engine plant currently employs about 600 people. The UAW is bargaining a new contract involving Spring Hill workers, and the announcement is an “outcropping” of the negotiations, he added.
“I think it's further indication of the competitiveness of the facility and the outstanding workmanship of our people,” Herron said about the announcement.
A top regional United Auto Workers official said Wednesday that a majority of workers at Volkswagen's massive Chattanooga factory have signed cards in favor of a German-style works council. Those cards, he added, are as legally binding as a more formal union vote — which regional GOP leaders have said will hurt their efforts to recruit more big employers.
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