Are You Paying Attention to the UAW and VW in TN?

The United Autoworkers Union desperately wants to organize a foreign automaker’s US plant, and it may have an ally. After decades of watching foreign automakers rebuff attempts by the UAW to organize their employees by having stellar employee relations practices and setting up facilities in Right to Work states, there is a little glimmer of hope for the union.

According to UAW president Bob King:

A majority of VW workers at the Chattanooga plant have signed cards saying they want UA representation. And more cards are coming in every day.

Only 50% plus 1 vote from the proposed bargaining unit members is needed under U.S. labor law’s card check scheme for unions to get into facilities without a secret ballot vote.

The UAW has convinced VW to set up a Works Council system similar to what VW and its union have in Europe. That works council system includes hourly and salaried workers. In Europe, workers at VW and other German companies have unions like the giant IG Metall that bargain over wages, benefits, and other economic issues, while the Works Council sets the production standards, overtime, vacation schedules, and considers other daily matters. The Tennessee plant’s Works Council cannot, under U.S. law, deal with financial issues

There is a lot of push back by current Chattanooga VW workers seeking to stop this union organizing effort. As you can imagine, this is a very hot topic with severe ramifications should the UAW get a toehold in a southern auto manufacturing facility. This blog will, of course, keep you updated as further activity happens

Matt Austin is a Columbus, Ohio lawyer who owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm with offices in central and northeast Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 285-5342 or email him at