Volkswagen released a new policy Wednesday that sets guidelines for how unions can interact with one of their local plants in Tennessee. Critics say the new rules leave room coercion.
The Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. has been a longtime target for the United Auto Workers (UAW). However, all previous attempts to organize the workers there, including an election earlier this year, have been unsuccessful.
Volkswagen, which has supported the UAW despite their workers turning them down, is changing the rules in a way that may make it easier for the union to establish itself.
In a press release, Volkswagen details that they have, “established a Community Organization Engagement policy that sets guidelines for interactions with labor organizations whose membership includes a significant percentage of Volkswagen Chattanooga employees.”
The press release continues, “The policy establishes a method to assure fair and equal treatment of all groups through a process that is transparent, respectful and consistent. Its purpose is to allow eligible organizations the opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue with Volkswagen and its employees.”
“The Community Organization Engagement policy establishes three levels of engagement and commensurate opportunities relative to the Volkswagen employees represented,” it went on to say.
Sebastian Patta, executive vice president of human resources for Volkswagen Chattanooga, said in a statement, “We recognize and accept that many of our employees are interested in external representation and we are putting this policy in place so that a constructive dialog is possible and available for everyone.”
Patta added, “Volkswagen has a long tradition of positive employee engagement at our plants around the world and we welcome this in our company.”
Others are more skeptical of this policy and see it as yet another way Volkswagen is supporting the UAW against the wishes of their workers.
Patrick Semmens, the vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement, “This new policy makes it increasingly clear that VW management seems determined to prop up the UAW, even though a majority of VW workers opposed UAW unionization in a secret-ballot vote. Instead of cutting backroom deals with Detroit and Germany union officials, Volkswagen and the UAW should respect the choice Chattanooga VW employees made earlier this year to reject the UAW.”
Semmens continued, “One of the biggest problems is that it still leaves the door wide open for VW to recognize the UAW via a coercive card check campaign and without a secret-ballot vote.”
He concluded, “We know from experience that union organizers often lie and mislead workers into signing cards, and this new policy makes it even more likely that workers will be misled into signing cards that can later be used to impose the UAW on all workers, even those who want nothing to do with it.”
TheDCNF could not reach Volkswagen or the UAW for further comment.
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