Meeting between German labor leader, Gov. Haslam postponed

Authored By chloe.morrison

Volkswagen AG Works Council Chairman Bernd Osterloh was scheduled to visit Tennessee today, but, after plane trouble has postponed a meeting with Gov. Bill Haslam, who has voiced his opposition to unionization of the local plant.

Several media outlets, including Rueters and The Chattanooga Times Free Press, reported that Osterloh was also scheduled to meet with VW workers today.

A Volkswagen spokesman said that isn’t happening today and they won’t speculate about potential future meetings. 

A spokesman for Haslam confirmed that Osterloh was to meet with Haslam, but said that plane problems kept officials in Germany, so plans have been postponed. 

Click here to read the Reuters article. 

The United Auto Workers union is in the midst of efforts to organize the local plant. 

Employees recently filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board against UAW leaders.

UAW leaders have denied the charges that they used inappropriate tactics to get employees to sign cards supporting unionization. 

Before the charges came, UAW leaders said they had cards supporting the UAW from at least 51 percent of local VW employees. 

A group of employees, who created the website, have also launched a petition drive in an effort to combat the UAW’s card signing claims. 

One of the organizers told the Wall Street Journal that he expects to have more than 50 percent of employees sign the petition that is in opposition to the UAW. 

Click here to read more from the Wall Street Journal about that. 

Sebastian Patta, head of human relations at VW Chattanooga, told Reuters recently that talks with the UAW about establishing a German-style works council will likely continue into next year. 

After the UAW announcement that they have support from a majority of workers, some people-including local workers and leaders from the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce-said a secret ballot vote is the only fair way to determine if the workers really want UAW representation. 

The Volkswagen unionization issue is atypical. Some leaders have said it might be the chance to create an entirely new system-one that’s not in the vein of the UAW’s traditionally adversarial relationship with company leaders, one that’s a hybrid of German and American labor practices. 

Some VW leaders in Germany want the local plant to be a part of their works council. It’s currently the only plant out of about 100 around the world that operates outside that system.

And the UAW has used that as a chance to represent local workers.

But, because the National Labor Relations Act forbids companies to have an internal union, organizing the local plant can’t be done exactly like the German model.

Volkswagen AG leaders want a works council because it would allow them to stay in touch with ideas and thoughts from Chattanooga workers and come to future deals about working conditions, Horst Neumann, VW’s board member for human resources, said, according to Automotive News.

It’s unclear how a German-style labor system would work here. And because this is uncharted territory, the controversial and divisive issue has become convoluted.

Click here and here for more reading on the issue.