published Friday, May 25th, 2012

VW labor group won’t pressure Chattanooga workers to join UAW

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A top German union official will explain to hourly employees at Volkswagen's U.S. plant in early June that his group will not pressure them to join the United Auto Workers union, the automaker's top labor representative told Reuters on Thursday.

The UAW is relying heavily on the IG Metall, which has members on VW's works council, to help it organize German-owned U.S. plants because the German union has influence with VW management.

While the VW works council supports the UAW's efforts to organize workers at the company's plant in Chattanooga, it will not use its influence to help the U.S. union, works council chief Bernd Osterloh said at VW's headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany. The works council is the labor counterpart to company management, consisting of representatives from all the factories and brands in the VW group.

"Of course, we will support the UAW; we've said that all along," Osterloh told reporters. "But there's one thing we cannot do. We can't take workers at VW Chattanooga by the hand when it comes to voting (on UAW representation). One has to be in favor if one wants union representation."

Osterloh said works council general secretary Frank Patta will outline the labor group's position to the Tennessee factory workers in early June.

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