Right-to-work foundation sends notice to VW employees as unionization efforts ramp up

Authored By chloe.morrison

Members of the Virginia-based National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation sent information to Volkswagen employees today, encouraging them to “get the facts” before signing a UAW petition or card or giving contact information to union organizers. 

The organization sent a “special legal notice,” which can be viewed here, to the employees. 

In April, leaders with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation said they were worried that United Auto Workers officials are pressuring Volkswagen to “cut backroom deals” that would force unwilling employees into the union ranks, according to Nooga.com archives. 

For more than a year, leaders with the United Auto Workers Union have been eyeing Chattanooga’s Volkswagen plant, and they are having discussions about the possibility of creating a German-style labor board.

Efforts to unionize Volkswagen of Chattanooga have recently ramped up, but forces of opposition are also organizing. 

Reuters reported Tuesday that United Auto Workers President Bob King met with Volkswagen AG and German labor leaders last week to discuss moving forward with worker representation at the local plant. 

The outlet also reported that the local company’s employees could be briefed as soon as this week about a vote on the issue and about the UAW’s willingness to back the vote. 

This week, President of Volkswagen America Jonathan Browning addressed the possibility of unionization at the local plant, saying that company leaders are looking for an “innovative solution” to the situation in which employees can have a strong voice locally and globally. 

“We’ve been very clear that the process has to run its course,” he said when asked about negotiations between VW and United Auto Workers leaders. “No decision has been made. It may or may not conclude with third-party representation.”

And he repeated what Volkswagen leaders have constantly said-the final decision is up to employees. 

The notice from the right-to-work foundation said that workers don’t have to unionize through the UAW in order to discuss wages or working conditions and informs employees about what they can do if they oppose, or change their minds about, the unionization efforts. 

Production team members at VW now start at $15 an hour and move to $16 in six months. The pay increases up to $21 per hour after five years. Employees are earning $20/hour at the three-year mark now, according to Nooga.com archives

Local Volkswagen leaders have also repeated that the decision is for the employees to make.

Regional UAW leader Gary Casteel recently wrote an opinion piece published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, in which he said the organizing efforts for a German-style union were underway but that some people haven’t “taken the time to learn the facts relating to the VW system, culture and philosophy” and “want to make this an ideological confrontation.”

In May, a brochure circulated at Volkswagen, and in it, some employees voiced the need for organizing.

And leaders of the German union IG Metall encouraged workers to join a union.

“The best way for us to solve problems in our company and contribute to its success is to have a true voice in the company, and the only way to accomplish this is through forming a strong union in our plant,” Eric DeLacy, who works in the VW paint department, wrote in the brochure, according to archives.

But according to an Associated Press article, some Southern lawmakers are not keen on the idea of union organization because they say it’s the state’s right-to-work laws that have helped draw industry to Tennessee. 

This summer, David Smith, spokesman for Gov. Bill Haslam, told Nooga.com that one of the things that makes Tennessee great is that it is a right-to-work state.

Click here and here for more background on the issue.