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Volkswagen Opens Door To Employees For Self-Representation

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In what appears to be a huge setback for the United Auto Workers (UAW), Volkswagen in Chattanooga issued a new policy on Wednesday entitled “Community Organization Engagement” which opens the door for VW employees who want alternative representation without the UAW.

While the UAW is wrongly touting VW’s new policy (posted in full below) as a means of making it easier for the UAW to unionize VW’s workers in Chattanooga, in reality, the policy gives employees opposed to the UAW a formal way of having their voice heard through a means of self-representation by utilizing “Community Organizations” like the American Council of Employees.

Unlike a traditional labor union such as the UAW, with its political ties and loyalities to the Democratic Party and the Detroit automakers, the American Council of Employees (or A.C.E.) was formed solely to serve Volkswagen’s employees in Chattanooga following the UAW’s devastating defeat earlier this year.

The group is run by VW employees and any money raised stays in Chattanooga, as opposed to the UAW headquarters in Detroit.

Under VW’s new policy, there are three levels of engagement.

Groups get level 1 engagement benefits when they get more than 15 percent membership. They get level 2 benefits with more than 30 percent membership and level 3 benefits with more than 45 percent.

“This is a viable alternative to the UAW’s failed Detroit model,” stated Maury Nicely, a Chattanooga attorney who specializes in labor and employment law.

As the Detroit Free Press notes:

…Volkswagen’s new policy falls short of providing the UAW with a path towards the clear-cut, exclusive recognition that the union had been hoping for.

That’s because Volkswagen’s policy fails to recognize the UAW as the only bargaining agent. In fact, Volkswagen’s policy provides three tiers of representation for “labor organizations” and allows any group to act as a representative with at least 15% of workers signed up as members. [Emphasis added.]

Despite the fact that the UAW (as a third-party union) is not legally permitted either by federal law or its own union constitution to delegate its authority as ‘exclusive representative’ to a third party, the UAW has maintained its intent to do so.

Moreover, if the UAW were to unionize the VW plant, the new policy would likely be deemed unlawful since, under the law, the UAW would become the employees’ “exclusive bargaining representative” and Volkswagen would be forbidden from dealing with employees or other employee groups directly.

In an A.C.E. press release, Sean Moss, a VW employee who is currently serving as the group’s president stated, “It is evident that this policy is intended to present employees with a clear choice, and as we have seen over the past several weeks— hourly and salaried workers alike choose ACE.”

“Volkswagen-Chattanooga has now officially recognized the need for a local group that puts the needs and interests of its members ahead of outside political forces,” Moss added. “The policy ensures that groups other than the UAW will have a voice.”

Based on Volkswagen’s new policy, as long as more than half of the employees do not turn their rights over to the UAW, it appears that employee representatives of groups other than the UAW will now have the ability for self-representation.

For the UAW, that cannot sit well as the union spent an estimated $8000 per vote that the UAW received in February.

VW Community Organization Engagement by LaborUnionReport

Image credit.

* Editor’s Note: After having written about the UAW’s plot to infiltrate the South since 2010, a friend asked me whether I would be willing to help the Volkswagen employees who were opposed to unionization by the UAW.

Without hesitation, I said yes and, over the course of approximately three weeks in February 2014 (for which we were paid by a non-profit worker center—similar to those worker centers that unions use today) we provided assistance to the employees.

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