Southern Momentum, an anti-United Auto Workers group, said today that a neutrality agreement between Volkswagen and the UAW has "sold out" employees at Chattanooga's VW plant.
"While UAW organizers are in our plant making implied promises of higher wages and bonuses to VW team members, the election agreement clearly spells out the UAW has already sold us out," said anti-UAW VW employee Mike Jarvis in a statement.
Across the automotive industry, costs such as rubber, steel, aluminum and other materials are relatively fixed, the group said. Unions like the UAW have no ability to affect those costs, it said. However, the one thing they can do is affect labor costs which can make manufacturers less competitive than others, the group said.
"While its organizers are out there making a bunch of promises, the UAW, behind our backs, has already agreed to 'maintaining and where possible enhancing' VW's cost advantages," Jarvis said. "Since the UAW is negotiating over our wages and benefits, it means their organizers are out here misleading a bunch of people and it's very possible the UAW, in order to unionize us, has already agreed to give away what we've already got."
Southern Momentum said that if the UAW and VW cannot reach a contract in "an appropriate period of time," the election agreement states that Volkswagen and the UAW could, ultimately, have an arbitrator dictate the terms of a contract.
"While the UAW is out here preaching that they'll be our voice," said Jarvis, [UAW officials] have already signed an agreement to take away our voice by having yet another outsider picked by the company and the union-not us-to make the final decision on us what our wages and benefits will be."
"This is worse than what they did to the UAW members in 2007," said VW worker Sean Moss. "We're not even unionized and the UAW is already starting to bargain away our rights behind closed doors. How many more backroom deals have they done behind our backs?"
Nearly 1,500 VW workers are slated to vote on whether to OK UAW representation in the plant in an election Wednesday through Friday.
The UAW has said it will work with VW management to set up a works council labor board at the plant and establish a new standard for labor-management relations in the U.S. VW has indicated it is willing to work with the union to craft the first works council at a U.S. auto plant.
See more on the UAW Decision in Tuesday's Times Free Press.