UAW Works to Unionize VW Plant Boasts “New Model”

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The “killers of Detroit,” as some call them, are at it again trying to unionize a VW plant in Chattanooga, TN. The UAW has so far failed with its Toyota efforts, can it win over VW employees with its “new model” campaign?

UAW Works to Unionize VW Plant Boasts "New Model"

An anti-union billboard located on a highway near Chattanooga. Photo credit Dan Henry, Times Free Press.

The city of Chattanooga has become ground zero for another debate on the pros and cons of the UAW. It will likely see all sorts of claims and accusations go flying as the UAW tries to rebuild itself in the wake of the auto recession.

A Times Free Press story says that the pro-union forces of the United Auto Workers are trying to build a case for the unionization by claiming they have a new model. This new concept is “where the workers and management aren’t adversarial but rather vie for the same goal,” according to the story.

Of course, the anti-union advocates call hogwash on this idea. They are pointing out the legacy of the UAW’s impact in Detroit with a billboard that states “Auto Unions ATE Detroit. Next meal: Chattanooga?”

In an effort to gain more support, Matt Petterson, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center For Economic Freedom (group responsible for billboard), is rounding up support from all parties especially tea party activists. He has meet with the local president of the Chattanooga Tea Party who supports his cause.

“We’d generally resist unionizing a plant,” he said. “We’ve seen what happened with unions across the country, specifically Detroit.”

On the flip side are Volkswagen employees and union supporters. One such smitten supporter, Ed Hunter, has been working on education efforts that will “inform employees about a German-style works council labor board and ‘the new UAW.'”

Adding experience into the mix, VW employee representative Juergen Stumpf has been assigned to the plant to be an information resource. He is considered an expert on the German works councils system. These work councils are separate from the union and represent employees in discussions. “Under U.S. labor law, employees must set up a works council and a union would be required to do so, officials have said.”

The Chattanooga plant is the only major VW facility without a works council.

The UAW is working hard to collect signatures of the majority of the company’s workers to see their side. This includes sharing pamphlets that spell out the UAW’s new principles for organizing. “The union says that global competition in the auto market has changed the way it operates and the union ‘no longer presumes an adversarial work environment with strict work rules’ or narrow job classifications.”

What is at stake? A new sport utility vehicle being added to the production at the plant. A top official with a global works council has threatened to work to block the production until “it is clear how to proceed with the employees’ representation in the United States.”

Essentially, the vehicle’s production is being held hostage while the UAW tries to prove it is different than the one that destroyed Detroit.

It seems yet again the UAW is part of an American assembly problem. Good grief.

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Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. Mickey says:

    I’m not really for unions. All we can do is wait on the people there make their decision whether a union or council. Council does sound interesting. At least the employee can speak.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      I thought the council part was interesting. Frankly, I had to read the article I pulled from pretty close to make sure I didn’t get the council and the UAW mixed up. I’m not sure why they would consider the UAW when they already have a council system they could implement. Seems like the UAW would just be another cog in the wheel, IMHO.


  2. Mason says:

    Not to say unions are good or bad, but that billboard is funny.

  3. Larry says:

    People everywhere have the right to have another bargain for them in the hope they will get a better deal.

    I have the right to decide it their product matches the price being asked.

    It’s all very simple, it’s not personal, it’s strictly business. I buy what works for me at what I feel is a fair market price. If the product works at a good price everyone wins and I don’t care if it’s built by UAW people or non UAW people. I just see them as people building me a truck.

    Every new UAW site seems to be a plus for Subaru, Honda, BMW and Toyota.

    The UAW would have a lot more credibility if it’s management worked for 1 dollar like Lee Iacocca and Steve Jobs.

    Some people don’t seem to see what is happening.

  4. Mickey says:

    Larry any union used for manufacturing only increases the price of the product period.

    • Anonymous says:


      You may be right and if so Unions will have a life span and at some point they will price themselves out of existence.

      Looks like that might just be the case. Since the US auto industry in Detroit has died, half the population has left Detroit and there are thousands of abandoned homes. Seems the positive aspects of the UAW may have only applied to 2 perhaps 3 generations. With homes available for 30 – 40 thousand dollars will and industrious group of people with a new mind set come back to Detroit and rebuild it? Perhaps but I won’t be one of them.

      Check out A startup using the human and city resources to their advantage.

      The big 3 now have pensions which are underfunded. It will not be that long before the US government no longer has the resources to bail them out.

      The answer is very simple. When the pension funds become insolvent they go under. A simple cycle of live and then death. What will happen to those who have lost their pension because the pyramid could not grow large enough to take care of them forever? They will have nothing and will find out the hard way they were lied to by the big 3, the UAW and the local government of Detroit. At least they had a pension for a while, I have no such thing and am totally on my own. If I don’t work or can’t work I die off.

      Now will the auto companies which operate in right to work states be smart enough to take care of their labor force. If not it will all start over again.

      Unions are not much more then a monopoly for labor. Being a monopoly the need to be regulated like any other monopoly. That part doesn’t seem to happen. So they grow fat and die. When they are dying it will always be someone else’s fault.

      So, be careful everyone as you are about to borrow 50 thousand dollars for that new Tundra for F150 Ecoboost. When hard times come along you employer won’t care if you can’t make the payment as they pack up and move to Mexico from Texas.

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