CHATTANOOGA (Reuters) — Volkswagen AG said on Monday it had recognized a new group called the American Council of Employees to represent workers at its auto assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in addition to the United Auto Workers.
Each worker group will represent workers in an unconventional manner set up by VW that allows more than one group to meet with plant management.
The ACE is an alternative to and has campaigned against the UAW union, which a year ago lost an election to be the sole representative of workers at the plant.
The ACE proved to an outside auditor it had achieved support from at least 15 per cent of the plant's hourly and salaried workers, VW said. The UAW two months ago proved support from at least 45 per cent of hourly workers at the plant and also represents workers there.
The VW policy allows increasing levels of access to plant management based on a group's support level. The UAW at 45 per cent has more access to management than the ACE at 15 per cent.
Sean Moss, president of the ACE, said an advantage of his group is that it is locally based. The UAW is based in Detroit, but it says that its union local in Chattanooga handles issues at the plant there.
Moss said that the inclusion of salaried workers as well as blue-collar hourly workers is closer to the VW works council representation present at the company's plants worldwide.
"I’m not anti-union," Moss told Reuters on Monday. "I understand that a properly run union can benefit people. We will be that union."
Moss was among VW workers who fought the UAW in the run-up to last February's election, which the UAW lost by 712-626 vote of hourly workers. Last August, the anti-UAW workers said they would form the ACE.
Moss on Saturday was elected president of the ACE, along with five other officers.
In a statement, Mike Cantrell, president of UAW Local 42 at the plant, said his group represents "in excess of 50 per cent of the blue-collar workforce" and that the UAW continues to work toward establishing collective bargaining at the plant for hourly workers.
Neither the ACE nor UAW has collective bargaining rights for workers at the plant.
Moss said he hopes the ACE can convince anti-UAW workers who are anti-union to join his group. But, he said, it is difficult to convince anti-union workers to join any worker group.
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