published Saturday, February 8th, 2014

VW officials defend company actions over Chattanooga election

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    Frank Fischer is the CEO of Chattanooga Operations for Volkswagen.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
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Volkswagen officials in Chattanooga today defended the company’s call for an election, saying the potential for setting up a works council labor board is a part of a proven business model.

“The Volkswagen Group is proud of its record of cooperation and co-determination between employees, management and the communities in which we live and work. Our works councils are key to our success and productivity,” said Frank Fischer, chief executive of VW’s Chattanooga operations, in a statement. “Our plant in Chattanooga has the opportunity to create a uniquely American works council, in which the company would be able to work cooperatively with our employees and ultimately their union representatives, if the employees decide they wish to be represented by a union.”

VW also defended the fairness of the election process, saying that democracy is an American ideal and being open with its employees is a central pillar of its works councils.

“Volkswagen’s commitment to these values is one of the reasons why, although the law allowed us to recognize the UAW without an election on the basis of a card check, we asked the NLRB to conduct this election,” said Sebastian Patta, the plant’s vice president of human resources. “A secret ballot, one-worker-one-vote election furthers our values at Volkswagen America and will help us grow stronger in the future with our employees.”

But, some anti-union VW plant workers have complained they feel the company is colluding with the UAW to steer the election results in the union’s favor. They have said, for example, they’ve been denied the opportunity to address groups of workers at the plant, which the UAW has been able to do.

Patta said that outside political groups won’t divert the company from its work at hand: “innovating, creating jobs, growing, and producing great automobiles.”

“Our employees are free to discuss and state their opinions at the plant and to distribute campaign materials, including flyers and other literature, irrespective of whether they are in favor of or against a union,” he said. “We wish to point out that our employees who are against union representation as well as those in favor have consistently taken advantage of and exercised these rights. Volkswagen America is committed to defending our employees’ legal right to make a free choice. It is their decision.”

See more on the UAW Decision in Sunday’s Times Free Press.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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