Volkswagen

Christian Koch, President & CEO, Volkswagen Chattanooga, discussed the 2016 Chattanooga-made Passat in a Facebook Q&A.

Volkswagen's emissions cheating scandal was the result of a "chain of errors," Chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch said Thursday, admitting that the fault extends to the company as a whole, rather than a handful of rogue engineers.

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  Maintenance employees at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen assembly plant will vote Thursday and Friday on whether to allow the United Auto Workers to represent them.  However, Volkswagen objects to the election because the maintenance employees comprise only a small part of the plant’s hourly workforce.

In this interview, Glenn Spencer joins us to discuss whether a European-style labor organization called a works council could be established at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen plant.  Spencer is the Vice President of the Workforce Freedom Initiative, a division of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  The group has prepared a new 25-page report, A New Organizing Paradigm?

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The National Labor Relations Board has ruled in favor of the United Auto Workers’ bid for a second election at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen assembly plant.

© Copyright Volkswagen of America, Inc..

  The United Auto Workers are seeking a an election to represent maintenance workers at Chattanooga's Volkswagen assembly plant.

Copyright Volkswagen of America, Inc..

  Last year, when workers at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant voted on whether to allow the United Auto Workers to represent them, Volkswagen was accused of being too friendly with the UAW.  The UAW lost, and a new election could happen this year.  But this time, VW opposes it.  In this segment, we find out why, and speak with UAW Local 42 President Mike Cantrell about what's at stake in the election and whether it has anything to do with the recent VW diesel-emissions cheating scandal.

While Congress was concerned about pollution and deception in the automaker's emission problems, the state that's home to VW's only U.S. plant wants some assurances that their investment is safe.

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  Ahead of a hearing Thursday afternoon where Tennessee state legislators will ask VW leaders about the diesel emissions scandal's potential effects on the Chattanooga plant, VW released the following statement:

The Volkswagen Group has reaffirmed its commitment to expanding its Chattanooga facility, where it plans on producing a newly developed midsize SUV for the U.S. market.

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Volkswagen unveiled the redesigned 2016 Passat in September, and a VW spokesperson confirmed the 2016 models are already in production at the Chattanooga plant.  

However, the company has no plans to actually sell the 2016 TDI diesel Passat (or other 2016 diesel Volkswagen vehicles) anytime soon, according to remarks Michael Horn, the President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, delivered during a Congressional hearing.

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WUTC's Michael Edward Miller and Nooga.com's Chloe Morrison discuss the broader implications of Volkswagen choosing Chattanooga as the site to build its new seven-passenger SUV and a special research center.

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Saying that the United States "is and will remain one of the most important markets for Volkswagen," officials at Volkswagen announced that the Chattanooga, Tennessee plant will assemble the company's new midsize, seven-passenger SUV.  About $600 million will be invested in new production, and 2,000 new jobs are expected to be added.

"This is also a strong signal for the US as an industrial and automobile production location," said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, in a prepared statement.

The United Auto Workers' newest local union is forming in Chattanooga with workers from the same plant where the UAW was rejected earlier this year.  Called UAW Local 42, it's UAW’s latest effort to organize in the South.

In February, the UAW tried to unionize the entire VW Chattanooga auto plant, with cooperation from the company itself.  That bid was rejected in a 712-626 vote.  But UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel says he believes this renewed effort will succeed.

"The main reason," Casteel says, "I think, is because there's no election involved here.  There's no opportunity for third-party interference."

During the UAW’s original bid to unionize the plant, Senator Bob Corker and other conservative politicians had weighed in, urging workers to reject the union.  Formation of this new local union doesn’t require a vote—just signatures from 15 employees.  But it also lacks official recognition from Volkswagen.  If the local union grows to represent the entire VW Chattanooga workforce, it would be the first foreign-owned auto plant to unionize in the South.

Many questions remain: is this new union a step toward a German-style works council at the plant?  What, if anything, does this have to do with the new SUV that may be produced at the plant?  This audio features excerpts from the press conference and analysis from Chloe Morrison, a reporter at our news partner Nooga.com.

UPDATE 7/11/14 at 1:30 p.m.: Senator Bob Corker's office has responded to the UAW annoucement.

“There has been some confusion about what happened yesterday related to the UAW’s announcement that they are opening an office in Chattanooga and its impact on Volkswagen's expansion considerations,” said Todd Womack, Corker’s chief of staff, in a prepared statement. “The fact is, nothing happened. Any union can rent space in any city and open an office. Volkswagen made it very clear in their statement that they have no agreement whatsoever with the UAW."

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