There really is only one way to describe the rather sudden reversal of position among VW’s German union bosses on the potential expansion of VW’s Chattanooga plant…
Last Thursday, Bernd Osterloh, the head of the Volkswagen’s global works council and a member of the company’s supervisory board stated that expansion of VW’s Chattanooga plant would not hinge on unionization of the plant’s employees:
In his only U.S. interview, Osterloh told The Associated Press that the pending decision about union representation for workers at the automaker’s lone U.S. plant will have no bearing on whether the company will decide to add the production of a new SUV in Tennessee or in Mexico.
“Those two things have nothing to do with each other,” Osterloh said during the interview, which was conducted in German. “The decision about a vehicle will always be made along economic and employment policy lines. It has absolutely nothing to do with the whole topic about whether there is a union there or not.” [Emphasis added.]
That’s quite a turn around from last June when VW union officials issued an ultimatum to the Chattanooga workers through the press.
Last week, a high-ranking labor leader who sits on VW’s supervisory board told a German news agency that the board wouldn’t authorize the addition of a second assembly line at the $1 billion Chattanooga plant or any new product until the plant joins the works council that represents all of VW’s other assembly plants.
“We will only agree to an expansion of the site or any other model contract when it is clear how to proceed with the employees’ representatives in the United States,” a report published Tuesday, June 18, by the news agency dba quoted the labor leader, Stephan Wolf, as saying.
The remarks raised the stakes of the politically sensitive organizing campaign already under way here and delivered a ready-to-serve talking point to the UAW, which is in talks with VW about how to make a German-style labor model work at the Chattanooga plant. [Emphasis added.]
Why the sudden about face?
Well, perhaps once Chattanooga employees filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against VW (and its German union), union officials from Germany realized that coercing and interfering with employees is illegal in the United States and thought better of their statements?
- Related: Why Doesn’t The UAW Want A Secret-Ballot Election At VW? In Short: Because The UAW Knows It Will Lose.