Volkswagen and Labor Might Start a Revolution in Dixie Bloomberg View — Volkswagen Worker

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Volkswagen Worker

Volkswagen and Labor Might a Revolution in Dixie

87 Jan 23, 2014 AM EST

As a union-side lawyer, I know write off the labor movement as But maybe globalization will us. Consider how the United Auto has come so close to organizing the AG plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The UAW may not win yet something earth-shaking has already a U.S. union opting to a German company to bring its own over here.

If that works, then globalization might save the U.S. movement. As pointed out by Harvard Richard Freeman. a leading economist, the workplace in countries as Belgium, Sweden, the Netherlands, and especially that uber-competitor, has remained relatively egalitarian. count the spread of “works in most of these countries, workers look through books and influence decisions.

It’s no accident that workforces also have a for being higher skilled. the workers of foreign companies business in the U.S. are exerting pressure to introduce their model.

It hasn’t been yet, but with help German workers, that’s the UAW is daring Volkswagen to do. The union has to Volkswagen and said in effect: do it your way, with model.”

Let me, as an old-fashioned labor try to explain what a departure would be.

Volkswagen and the UAW have introducing a European-type works a group elected by all the workers or not) to participate in and help the management of the Tennessee plant. a council is in every VW plant the world except in China and the U.S. But in the U.S. there is a — because the UAW wouldn’t the works council, Volkswagen have to first recognize the UAW as the representative and then enter an in which the union partially up that right.

That means the UAW would give up its most precious — that of being the representative” of workers under 9 of the Wagner Act. Instead of the UAW over a range of in-plant a works council elected by all — white collar and collar — would run the plant.

At VW headquarters in Wolfsburg, the council wields enormous It can negotiate the start times, schedules, staffing, the use of temporary and even determine whether were properly discharged and It cannot act unilaterally. But managers either, unless the council No U.S. union has proposed a with so much worker or corporate democracy, while up its claim to be the “exclusive representative.”

So would the UAW be left to do? It could bargain over money such as wages, health and pensions, much as the German do.

In the long run, this by the UAW to surrender some of its power have a huge payoff. as Michael Fichter. a labor and emeritus professor at the Freie in Berlin, told me: “It’s a idea in a right-to-work state. The UAW can in and say, ‘Look, you aren’t to give up all your rights to a We’re setting up a works that only you can control.’”

At the time, for Volkswagen to get the necessary with the UAW to put its model in place, it has to recognize a role for the UAW.

If advanced form of worker starts in the non-union South, it be as explosive as it would be ironic. The of this kind of power an enormous amount of worker without a union being as a wall-to-wall exclusive representative might turn the world of the workers upside down.

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That explains why Volkswagen has under such pressure the Tennessee establishment not to recognize the True, being Americans, local managers hate the of unions.

But that’s the least of it. In the state’s governor, William has said that if the UAW wins, is through. U.S. Senator Bob who brought Volkswagen into the as mayor of Chattanooga, told News that the damage a UAW victory could last generations to come.” It isn’t Volkswagen, according to Corker, but all companies locating in the South will fall. “Then BMW, then it’s then it’s Nissan, the entire Southeast if they get the

Corker and Haslam and Charles and Koch. the corporate titans who groups such as the National to Work Legal Defense have cause to panic. A UAW would put on display a de-demonized not the one the right is used to attacking.

So opponents are trying to force to conduct a secret-ballot election the Chattanooga plant’s workers on they wish to be represented by the If that happens, well-funded groups will descend on the population and shriek at VW’s until enough of them that it is all too much trouble, and isn’t what they

Whether that sorry will materialize is still Talks are ongoing among VW, the and IG Metall, the union that VW workers in Germany. Regardless, foreign rival model of relations is now out there for U.S. to see. Volkswagen even has a Works Council — worker representatives from the Republic, Russia and other — which takes in extraordinary range of decisions, up to placement. One day, perhaps before VW’s Chinese join, U.S. workers are to wonder why they’re still out.

(Thomas Geoghegan is a lawyer in Chicago. He is the author, recently, of “Were You Born on the Continent?”)

To contact the writer of this Thomas Geoghegan at .

To the editor responsible for this James Gibney at .

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