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."