Volkswagen is announcing a new policy today that will open the door for multiple labor organizations — including the UAW — to represent workers at its plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., giving the beleaguered union a key achievement in the South.
For the UAW, winning an opportunity to officially represent workers at an assembly plant in the South would be a major accomplishment after years of losing elections at German and Asian auto plants in the U.S.
“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 dialogue is possible and available for everyone,” Sebastian Patta, executive vice president of human resources for Volkswagen Chattanooga, said in a statement provided exclusively to the Free Press.
However, Volkswagen’s new policy falls short of providing the UAW with a path towards the clear-cut, exclusive recognition that the union had been hoping for.
By: Mark Gruenberg October 27 2014
WASHINGTON - For Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, unions represent what’s right with the U.S.
In a stem-winding speech at the National Press Club on Oct. 22, Perez, who grew up in a working-class family in Buffalo, declared unions are responsible for creating and sustaining the middle class. And the decline in unions is bad for the nation, he added.
Perez’ remarks are notable because they represent one of the Obama administration’s few full-throated instances of advocacy of unions before a non-union audience. While Obama himself says people should join unions - most recently in a Labor Day speech in Milwaukee - he’s restricted those remarks to appearances before union and/or partisan Democratic crowds.
They’re also notable because Perez has been backing words with enforcement actions. His predecessor, first-term Obama Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, repeatedly declared herself “the new sheriff in town.” She repeatedly used those words to union audiences.
But Perez’ DOL has been backing the words by acting on a wide range of labor law enforcement issues, unveiling job health and safety rules and cracking down on worker misclassification, for example.