More on the UAW
Read more on the push to unionize Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant
An anti-United Auto Workers group on Tuesday said the UAW is trying to "scare and mislead" Volkswagen workers into believing a new policy by the carmaker will lead to exclusive recognition of the union by VW.
The American Council of Employees said that as an employee organization itself, indications are that the VW policy, expected this week, will extend to it as well.
"A new policy for employee engagement will provide all employees an opportunity to choose between the failed UAW model, led from Detroit, or a new alternative in ACE led solely by VW-Chattanooga workers," said Sean Moss, a VW employee and ACE interim president.
VW officials did not return calls for comment on Tuesday.
ACE has set up headquarters space near the VW plant, within a couple of miles from where UAW Local 42 is operating.
Mike Burton, also a VW worker and ACE's interim secretary, said the new office will help the organization sign up more members, and he predicted it eventually will be the exclusive representative of plant employees.
He expects the new policy will permit member organizations to make recommendations to VW, but not enable them to bargain with the company.
"We're going to forge forward," Burton said. "Soon, we hope to present VW with more than enough members. We'll be the employee representative, and there won't be a second one."
He said money for ACE's new operations base came from community donations, but he wouldn't be specific.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is downplaying the significance of the new policy.
Haslam, one of the more vocal Republicans critical of the UAW's efforts to represent workers at the plant, told reporters Tuesday that his administration has been in talks with Volkswagen about the new policy, but declined to be specific pending an official announcement. He added that he doesn't expect "new news in this beyond what they said before."
The UAW declined comment Tuesday, referring to a letter Local 42 in Chattanooga sent to its members Monday.
The letter said the expected new policy will lead to the local's recognition based on discussions that occurred last spring between the UAW and VW.
Mike Cantrell, the local's president, said the UAW was "upset about interference of outside parties and false statements" made during last February's election at the plant. The UAW lost an employee vote for recognition by 53 percent to 47 percent.
Cantrell said the UAW agreed to withdraw its election appeal to the National Labor Relations Board so it wouldn't affect a decision by VW to put assembly of a new sport utility vehicle in Chattanooga.
He said the UAW and VW agreed to work constructively and cooperatively on the product award. Cantrell said VW committed in a document that it would recognize the UAW as the representative of its members.
However, Burton termed the UAW letter "smoke."
"They're overstating their support," he said.
Moss said the UAW "hopes that they can mislead VW employees into thinking that their only choice is the UAW. That simply isn't the truth."
He said ACE has an ongoing dialogue with VW.
"As an official employee organization, we would hope that the company will maintain a fair and level playing field moving forward," Moss said. "ACE has a rapidly growing membership, and with the announcement of any new policy, will continue to engage directly with management."
Neither ACE nor the UAW will say how many employees each has signed up as members. Burton said ACE officials expect it will be the exclusive employee representative by February. Cantrell in his letter said "a majority of our co-workers" have joined the local.
Cantrell also cited a commitment from the VW Global Works Council and powerful European union IG Metall wanting the plant to be "a UAW-represented facility."
Both the UAW and ACE said they want to see a works council labor board set up at the plant, which VW has in nearly all its factories worldwide.
A works council, which can be made up of blue- and white-collar employees, oversees day-to-day operational issues such as schedules, safety and training.
However, VW says U.S. law prohibits the setting up of a works council without a union.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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