Union says VW not hiring locally; company fires back

Union says VW not hiring locally; company fires back

July 31st, 2009 by Mike Pare in Volkswagen

A union said Thursday that Volkswagen isn't hiring enough local workers in building the automaker's Chattanooga assembly plant, a charge the company denied.

Tom Owens, director of marketing and communications for the AFL-CIO's building and construction trades department in Washington, D.C., said in an e-mail that many construction contracts are being awarded to out-of-state contractors bringing their own work forces.

He said out-of-state workers are "displacing Tennessee skilled craft workers who would like nothing more that an opportunity to work on the VW plant's construction."

Mr. Owens also said "a significant number" of workers on the construction site are illegal immigrants. "Some of our folks out on the job tell us that many of the Hispanic workers are using Mexican drivers licenses as ID," Mr. Owens said.

However, VW spokeswoman April Wortham said the automaker is committed to working with local companies.

She said that as of Thursday, the amount of contracts awarded to Tennessee or Chattanooga area companies is $437.1 million.

"One of the reasons that Volkswagen chose Chattanooga is the availability of a well-qualified local work force," she said. "We do not discriminate against local companies who may employ workers from the local labor shed, which naturally includes neighboring states such as Alabama and Georgia."

In addition, she said, it is not only federal law but a Volkswagen requirement that all contractors and subcontractors maintain legal documentation for workers on the site.

"All of our contractors and subcontractors have confirmed to us in writing that all of their workers are documented," she said.