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UAW secretary-treasurer Gary Casteel addresses Times Free Press staff in an editorial board meeting at the paper in Chattanooga.

The United Auto Workers local in Chattanooga has been invited to the Volkswagen Group Global Works Council executive committee meeting in Germany next month, a union official said Tuesday.

"They've been invited to the table," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel. "That's a huge deal inside the VW system."

The Global Works Council includes representatives of VW plants worldwide. Nearly all of VW's major plants globally have works councils. Works councils, common under German law, allow blue-collar and white-collar workers to vote on workplace conditions.

VW officials have said they want to set up a works council in Chattanooga. But a labor union is needed under U.S. law, according to the company.

Casteel said the invitation of UAW Local 42 to the meeting outside of Wolfsburg, Germany, shows acceptance by the Global Works Council.

"They know we've got the density of membership," he said.

Last week, an independent auditor hired by VW verified that the UAW local has at least 45 percent of the plant's blue-collar workforce as members. That triggered new rights such as access to the plant and meetings with management.

However, a rival labor group, the American Council of Employees, has challenged the number of members, saying some were signed months before the implementation of the policy last month, and that it plans to submit names to VW next month.

Sean Moss, ACE's interim president, said in a letter to VW that a large portion of the UAW signatures are nullified by materials subsequently signed by employees expressly revoking any prior authorization of UAW representation and/or authorizing ACE as the sole representative.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318.