United Auto Workers President Bob King confidently predicted in an interview with a German newspaper that his union will be representing workers at a Chattanooga, Tenn., Volkswagen factory by June. UAW has been trying to unionize the factory for years. Success would represent a major inroad for UAW in the traditionally union-averse south.
It not a slam dunk, though. While the UAW has gained the help of its German counterpart, IG Metall, to push the company towards accepting unionization in Chattanooga, it's not clear that that is what the workers there actually want. While the UAW claims to have gotten a majority of workers to sign cards saying they want representation, others have claimed the union has used deceptive practices to do that. A UAW organizer conceded to the Tennessean in October that if they put the matter up to an employee vote, the union would "probably lose."
King nevertheless told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that he believed that the company wanted a union: "We are also working well with the company. VW has been very fair in its dealings with us and wants its employees to have a voice," he said, according to a report Tuesday by Reuters.
The company has called for a formal vote though. Volkswagen of America's new chief executive, Michael Horn, told the audience at the North American International Auto Show Monday that the company will accept whatever a majority the workers desire: "Democracy is an important part of American culture," he said.
For more on how UAW and IG Metall have tried to push VW towards accepting unionization, see my November column: "Why Big Labor is targeting a Chattanooga Volkswagen plant." For more on the complaints by Chattanooga workers about the tactics used to promote unionization, click here.