Volkswagen’s Tennessee plant sets new standard for low wages World Socialist… — Volkswagen Worker

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Volkswagen Worker

Published by the International Committee of the International (ICFI)

Volkswagen’s plant sets new standard for low

By Andre Damon

23 September

The Volkswagen Chatanooga plant at the when the first shift

Volkswagen’s new plant in Chattanooga, made headlines this as the first US auto assembly to pay its entire production workforce the starting wage for new US autoworkers—$14.50 per

But now the plant is starting all new production at $12 per hour, workers said, the bar even lower for autoworker

In order to receive a bevy of federal, and local subsidies, promised in 2008 to create local jobs at the “full” pay But as production approaches full all new production workers are now being in through Aerotek, Volkswagen’s contractor, at $12 per hour. In addition to the production workforce, the factory over 500 temporary contract employees, workers said.

One of the plant’s parking lots

workers are in assembly doing the jobs as VW workers, they work for a different company,” one contract worker named “In orientation, we were told considered equal to Volkswagen and expected to work just them.”

While discipline is for Volkswagen employees, Aerotek have it even worse. “If five or six minutes late your first week or you’re done.” said “If you call out a day within your month and a half, you’re he said.

“Anyone who talks ‘spoiled American workers’ is badly mistaken,” he concluded.

The produces the Volkswagen Passat, midsize sedan aimed at the US In moving production to Chattanooga, was able to chop nearly off of the car’s sticker price, the base model down to It did this while significantly the car’s size and adding such as dual-zone climate and a hands-free calling system.

the record-low wages paid by the there has been no problem positions with local The economic devastation wrought on over the past ten years has tens of thousands of experienced and industrial workers out of work as factories shut their

“These are the best-paying jobs anywhere in Chattanooga,” said one worker who asked us not to use his name. do everything knowing there are a people out there who would do your job if you don’t want

Volkswagen received over applications for its initial hiring of 1,500 employees, and applicants to stream in by the thousands. On morning changes, applicants join the Volkswagen and Aerotek workers into the plant’s gates.

day for the past three months, 48 have taken an 8-hour simulation exam, hoping to a job at the plant,” said Josh. over four thousand wasting a whole day to fill hundred positions,” he said.

In to the hundreds of contract employers Aerotek, maintenance and food is done by contractors who earn less than production in some cases as little as $8 per

“Wages are falling everywhere; true in Detroit and it’s here,” said Josh. what can you do? Twelve dollars per is still a pretty good job here.”

Wages in the area fallen as high unemployment workers to take any job that available. “It’s good on the part of the companies,” said

Josh used to work for the electrical company making but started looking for other when he found out his department was cut. “I knew more were coming, so I started for work early,” he said. seen my coworkers laid off by the

Josh said that two out of the Aerotek workers on his team laid off from General plants in Detroit, where were paid $28 per hour or and moved to Chattanooga to start as making $12 per hour.

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Many of those who make it Volkswagen’s arduous hiring cannot stand the mental and fatigue of production work. or 40 people a week just out,” said Josh. a very hard job.”

the paint and body shops—where temps start out—have fair share of hard workers said assembly is the arduous part of the plant. been here since August and I haven’t even a car body,” said Josh. make sure you’re because assembly work is insane.”

The vast majority of who applied for work at the plant turned away. One of those was Mayo, 57, who currently works as the of the maintenance for a local marina. said he makes $13 per hour at the and applied to Volkswagen for the benefits.


“They looked at my age and ‘he couldn’t do this for 20 years.’ they overlooked my experience, but how things go,” he added.

said he took off work to the application process, which most of the day. Five of his at the marina applied for work at the all unsuccessfully. “I’m not looking for a just a decent job,” he

Mayo accepted his current despite the “ridiculously low rate of because he was laid off from his job as a maintenance head at a boat and collected unemployment for the first in his life.

Daryl Okolley, who tables at a local diner by the said he understands why people Volkswagen’s low wages. “It’s to find any decent work around here.”

Okolley was one of a thousand workers who lost jobs when Wheland an automotive brake casting in the South Side of Chattanooga, was in 2001. “One day they got everyone together in the auditorium and we’re closing down. a week later I got a retirement for $161, and that was that.”

He from making $13 per hour at the to minimum wage at a Kentucky Chicken restaurant, before his current job. “It was quite an to say the least,” he said.

The closed US Pipe and Wheland

Okolley made $13 per hour at the “At the time, that was a decent he said. “But you can’t a family on that now.”

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