Photo: Current United Auto Workers President Bob King listens to a question from the media after announcing Dennis Williams, UAW secretary-treasurer, is the choice of the union’s leaders to be its next president in Dearborn, Michigan November 7, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Rebecca Cook
By Kenneth Quinnell
Originally published in AFL-CIO Now.
On Feb. 12–14, workers at the Chattanooga, Tenn., Volkswagen factory will vote to unionize. If successful, they plan to organize under the works council model that is common at the company’s factories outside the United States. Currently, the Tennessee location is the only major Volkswagen production facility in the world that does not have labor representation. Works councils enable workers to collaborate with management in improving the workplace and increasing company success.
“Volkswagen is known globally for its system of cooperation with unions and works councils,” saysUAW President Bob King. “The UAW seeks to partner with [Volkswagen Group of America (VWGOA)] and a works council to set a new standard in the U.S. for innovative labor–management relations that benefits the company, the entire workforce, shareholders and the community. The historic success of the works council model is in line with the UAW’s successful partnerships with the domestic automakers and its vision of the 21st century union.”
The works council model has been successful for Volkswagen elsewhere. The company is recognized around the world as being a leader in respecting the rights of workers to organize and collectively bargain, with standards that go beyond labor standards, according to a UAW press release.
“We have reached an agreement with VWGOA that will allow workers to express their opinion and decide on the question of union representation in an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation,” says UAW Region 8 Director Gary Casteel. “The UAW commends the company and the Global Works Council for recognizing global human rights and worker rights in Tennessee.”