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.
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.
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.
“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.