Chris Brooks

Volkswagen Declares Mission Accomplished

Devil horns, pitchfork, and tail have been added to the VW logo on a car

In the carrot and stick approach to union-busting, Frank Fischer was the carrot.

Fischer, a former plant executive whom many workers remembered fondly, parachuted in as interim CEO of the Chattanooga, Tennessee, Volkswagen plant at the end of May to help sway the plant’s 1,700 hourly workers to vote against unionization.

He replaced unpopular CEO Antonio Pinto. The point was to show workers that the company was listening to their concerns and making changes.

Woman holding "UNION YES" sign and child holding U.S. flag, with VW plant behind

It was a bad sign. On the day voting began at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the shift change suddenly turned blue.

Throngs of workers were passing through the factory turnstiles in both directions, as the day shift ended and the night shift began. On the preceding days, handfuls of union supporters in bright green shirts were there to hand out flyers and banter with their co-workers.

Volkswagen Declares War against Works Council and German Union

Group of workers in matching green T-shirts outside the plant

A top employee representative in Volkswagen’s Global Works Council was denied entry into the company’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, factory today as the union election began.

The plant’s 1,700 eligible hourly employees began voting this morning on whether to form a union with the United Auto Workers. The results will be announced Friday night.

According to a statement from the Global Works Council, Johan Järvklo arrived at the plant to be an election observer. Workers confirmed that he was booted.

“I’m only 33 and I can’t see myself working here for another 10 years,” said Ashley Murray. “I would be disabled by then. We need a union because they are a multibillion-dollar company and they treat us like shit.”

Murray is a production employee at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, one of 18 hourly employees there I interviewed for this story. Comments like hers were almost universal.

A crowd with signs saying "Millwrights Local 1554 support UAWVW workers," "IUPAT Local 226 supports UAWVW workers," "Solidarity," "Union Yes," "Ver.di," "UAW"

The new head of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant led two all-plant captive-audience meetings on Tuesday, a day before the National Labor Relations Board announced it has scheduled a union election.

Labor Notes has obtained audio of the speeches by CEO Frank Fischer. Both times he insinuated that the United Auto Workers were to blame for the closure of Volkswagen’s plant in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, in 1988.

All 1,709 hourly employees at the plant will be eligible to participate in the election June 12, 13, and 14.

In a week of frenzied developments in the organizing drive at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the National Labor Relations Board tossed out the union's election petition, the Auto Workers (UAW) immediately refiled it, and the company announced it is removing the plant's unpopular CEO.

The Labor Board's decision gives the German automaker even more time to engage in the scorched-earth anti-union tactics commonly deployed by U.S. employers.

After a strike threat and a contentious ratification vote, 13,000 members of the New York State Nurses Association settled a contract that achieved gains but fell short of the union’s goal of winning safe nurse-to-patient staffing ratios.

The four-year agreement includes annual pay increases of 3 percent, increased tuition reimbursement, retiree health benefits for nurses who retire early, and a new process to enforce staffing levels.

The National Labor Relations Board has ruled to postpone a planned union election vote at Volkswagen's factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where plant management spent the week waging war against union supporters.

In an unexpected victory for Volkswagen, the company has evaded another plantwide union election thanks to a ruling from the Republican-dominated Labor Board. The election, petitioned for by the Auto Workers (UAW) on April 9, has been put off indefinitely.

Tennessee Governor Leads Anti-Union Captive Audience Meeting at VW

Volkswagen plant

The lines stopped at Tennessee’s Volkswagen factory today as workers were forced to attend an all-plant captive audience meeting with the state’s Republican governor, Bill Lee.

A recording of the governor’s speech, obtained by Labor Notes, reveals a raucous meeting in which the governor tried to praise workers while encouraging them to vote against the union.

Volkswagen Jump-Starts Anti-Union Campaign

“The anti-union campaign has begun,” said a Volkswagen worker, who asked to not be identified due to fear of being targeted by management.

Before each shift, the 1,700 workers at the company’s Chattanooga, Tennessee factory attend mandatory meetings where they do stretches while supervisors read updates from the company’s “JumpStart” newsletter.

This morning, the supervisors read something new: anti-union talking points.

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