Second Labor Group Certified to Represent Volkswagen Workers

DETROIT (Detroit Free Press/TNS) -

A second employee organization has been certified to represent workers at Volkswagen’s assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., giving the UAW a fierce rival under the automaker’s new labor policy.

Volkswagen said an outside auditor has verified that the American Council of Employees has achieved support from at least 15 percent of the plant’s hourly and salaried workers.

That gives ACE the right to raise questions, ideas or concerns directly to Volkswagen management at any time. ACE, which was formed to offer employees an alternative to the UAW, also means that two rival labor groups will continue to face off at the plant.

Sean Moss, an hourly Volkswagen employee and President of ACE, told the Detroit Free Press last year that the group is not anti-UAW — even though the organization’s website initially promised to oppose the UAW and keep the union out of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant.

Despite the membership verification, Mike Cantrell, President of UAW Local 42, said anti-union activity is actually declining at the plant.

“We are focused on representing our members and solidifying our partnership with the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, which has said clearly that it wants the Chattanooga plant to be a UAW-represented facility,” Cantrell said in a statement.

The UAW became the first labor organization to obtain certification under a “Community Organization Engagement Policy,” unveiled by the automaker last fall.

Volkswagen’s labor policy provides labor groups with three different levels of representation rights, depending on the number of employees they represent.

The UAW has support from more than 45 percent of Volkswagen’s hourly workers at the plant — surpassing the highest level of representation. At that level, a union can meet every other week with Volkswagen’s management and executive committee.

Volkswagen said it has started meeting with UAW Local 42 on a regular basis.