UAW, two German labour groups link to organize VW in Tennessee: Report

Three parties to work for agreement on internships, joint training program
By Reuters
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 09/29/2014

DETROIT (Reuters) — The United Auto Workers union and two top German labour groups have signed a letter of intent to jointly organize the Volkswagen AG assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a newspaper reported late on Sunday.

UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that the move was a big step toward creating a German-style works council at the plant. The UAW had lost a vote to represent about 1,500 workers there early this year.

The two labour groups are IG Metall, the powerful German union that represents VW workers in Germany, and the Volkswagen global works council, which has blue-collar and white-collar members from the company's plants worldwide.

VW's Chattanooga plant is the only one with no representation on the global works council.

While the UAW wants to represent the plant's blue-collar workers, VW's top labour officials want to bring the Chattanooga plant into its global works council. But such a council cannot exist unless workers are also represented by a U.S. union, most labour experts say.

Officials at the UAW, Volkswagen, IG Metall and the global works council were not immediately available on Monday morning.

"This is unique," Gary Casteel told the Chattanooga newspaper. "I don't know of any formal agreement between organizations of this nature."

The letter said the three parties would work for a definitive agreement on such matters as a joint training program, internships and communications, the newspaper said.

Details, including a timetable, were not outlined in the newspaper story.

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