Global union suspends Volkswagen agreement over Chattanooga plant dispute

Volkswagen plans to invest $800 million more into it's Chattanooga plant to make electric vehicles and hire 1,000 more workers.

A global union said Monday it has suspended its agreement with Volkswagen, citing the automaker's dispute with the United Auto Workers in Chattanooga.

"As the German car manufacturer consistently refuses to accord the same rights to its workers in Chattanooga ... as it does in the rest of the world, IndustriALL Global Union is today suspending its long-standing global agreement with Volkswagen," the Switzerland-based entity said in a statement.

IndustriALL Global Union's executive committee has agreed to suspend the global framework agreement, called the Declaration on Social Rights and Industrial Relations at Volkswagen, safeguarding workers' rights "if the German car giant continued to refuse to allow workers at its plant in Chattanooga to join a union."

"We regret Volkswagen's behavior and as long as the company refuses to honor its 2002 commitment with IndustriALL we see no other alternative than to consider the agreement suspended as of today, while we consider further actions together with our affiliated unions," said Valter Sanches, IndustriALL general secretary.

On Monday, neither Volkswagen nor the UAW had an immediate comment.

Last week, VW revealed a proposed $800 million investment with plans to hire 1,000 more employees for a new facility in Chattanooga to make electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Board is looking at the Volkswagen-UAW dispute.

The case involves an unfair labor practice charge against the auto company for refusing to bargain with a micro-union at the Chattanooga plant after a group of skilled trades workers agreed 108-44 in 2015 to align with the UAW.

VW has said it won't bargain with the micro-union because it wants all its blue-collar workers to vote on organizing the Chattanooga factory. The union lost a 2014 vote of the plant's workers by a margin of 712-626. Still, the UAW established Local 42 in Chattanooga.

In April 2016, an Obama administration NLRB denied VW's request for a review of the 2015 election, and the NLRB issued a complaint against VW for unfair labor practices and ordered the company to bargain with Local 42.

Later in 2016, VW appealed to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and in December 2017, the NLRB reversed a decision related to micro-unions and sought the VW case back from the appeals court to reconsider it. The appeals court agreed to send the case back to the NLRB, where it now sits before a Trump administration panel.

Contact staff writer Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.