The membership in Local 42 would be entirely voluntary. Also, the unit will not have the right to deal on the behalf of the employees working at the plant. On Thursday, the UAW officials said that VW will not officially recognize the union as long as majority of the plant’s workers join the local.
In a statement, Dennis Williams, the UAW President said, “Earlier this year, the UAW was gratified to earn the confidence and support of many Volkswagen team members. At that time, we said we would not give up on these committed and hard-working employees. We’re keeping our promise.”
This unusual move indicates that UAW is leaving no options to represent its workers at Chattanooga plant, which is viewed as its best step towards forming a foreign-owned plant in the US South.
Gary Casteel, the UAW Secretary-Treasurer, said, “We’ve had ongoing discussions with Volkswagen and have arrived at a consensus with the company. Upon Local 42 signing up a meaningful portion of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga workforce, we’re confident the company will recognize Local 42 by dealing with it as a members’ union that represents those employees who join the local.”
He further emphasized that “Local 42 will be run by, and for, the employees at Volkswagen.”
As a part of its deal with VW, Casteel explained that UAW would continue its mutual efforts with Volkswagen, in order to ensure the growth and expansion of the company in Chattanooga.
In a statement to Reuters, Scott Neal Wilson, a spokesman for VW, said, “Just like anywhere else in the world, the establishment of a local organization is a matter for the trade union concerned. There is no contract or other formal agreement with UAW on this matter.”
Dave Smith, a spokesperson for Bill Haslam, the Governor of Tennessee, deferred to VW, saying, “Our understanding is that there is no agreement between the company and the UAW.”
Kristin Dziczek, the Director of the industry and labor group at Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said that arranging an outpost close to the plant in Chattanooga would “bring some kind of critical mass” to the organizing effort of UAW, following a loss in the February vote.
Dziczek further said that if sufficient workers agree to join, then the car-maker may eventually decide to hold talks with the group.