The UAW announced last week that a majority of workers in the Chattanooga plant have signed union cards, and union leaders are asking Volkswagen to recognize the union rather than demanding an election, a process during which many employers intimidate and fire union supporters. Normally, when American unions ask that of companies, the companies laugh and then start the intimidation. But IG Metall, the German union in question, actually has seats on Volkswagen's board (as is common there), so IG Metall's support for the UAW having a role in Chattanooga carries some real weight. One big question is what form the UAW's role would take. German workers are represented both by a union and by a works council, which focuses on working conditions. A works council in the U.S. requires union representation, but:
[T]he UAW is promising that this arrangement won't be business as usual. Rather, they seem to be hewing to the idea that the union really will be importing the German works council model. A UAW official told the Associated Press the the its "role would be 'totally different' from established relationships with U.S. automakers," adding that it would be a "new form of representation." Unfortunately, he said he couldn't divulge any details just yet.Republican Sen. Bob Corker's temper tantrum over the possibility that the UAW might represent Tennessee Volkswagen workers continues, spurring the New York Times' Vikas Bajaj to write:
The strangest thing about Mr. Corker’s and Mr. Haslam’s criticism of Volkswagen is that Republicans are usually on the ones telling everybody else in government not to meddle in the affairs of profit-making businesses. After all, it’s their mantra that businesses, not lawmakers, create jobs.
Never expect logical consistency from a Republican; the only consistency that matters to people like Corker is keeping power out of the hands of workers (or women, or people of color, etc). If Volkswagen keeps on its current course, Corker should have a lot to be unhappy about in the coming months.