Top executives at Volkswagen AG started high-level negotiations with the
UAW on Friday on how the union might represent workers at VW’s assembly
plant in Chattanooga, a German newspaper reported today.
Volkswagen’s works council said it would press on with efforts to set up
labor representation at its Chattanooga, Tennessee plant, undeterred by
a workers’ vote against any such step involving the United Auto Workers
Europe’s largest carmaker Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) on Tuesday warned
workers at its biggest factory it might introduce cost-cutting measures
in the months ahead to counter the impact of stalling sales.
A decision on whether Volkswagen AG VOW3.XE 0.93% will build a new
hybrid sport-utility vehicle at a plant in Tennessee or Mexico is
expected to be announced in the fourth quarter, one of the company’s
executives said on Monday.
According to a report in Handelsblatt, UAW President Bob King met with
Horst Neumann, the board member for human resources at VW, during a
meeting that started Friday at the automaker’s corporate headquarters in
Employees at the plant, in a region traditionally hostile to organized
labor, on Friday opted to reject representation by the union, whose
membership has plummeted 75 percent since 1979 and now stands at just
Company executives including finance chief Hans Dieter Poetsch have
warned recently that VW may defer some non-product investments as the
German automaker struggles with slumping demand, especially in core
The Chattanooga, Tenn., plant is anxiously awaiting a decision since
adding the vehicle winning would mean a significant increase in jobs,
said Frank Fischer, VW’s chief executive of the plant, on the sidelines
of an annual conference. The facility—now employing 2,600 workers—is
home to the Passat. Typically, between 500 and 1,000 jobs would be
created when another vehicle is added to a plant.
Citing anonymous sources, the newspaper reports that they discussed
setting up a German-style “works council” to represent workers at the
“The outcome of the vote, however, does not change our goal of setting
up a works council in Chattanooga,” Gunnar Kilian, secretary general of
VW’s works council, said in a statement on Sunday, adding that workers
continued to back the idea of labor representation at the plant.
VW’s global deliveries edged up just 0.1 percent last month to 720,400
cars, compared with a 3.2 percent gain in July, making August VW’s
weakest month in at least two and a half years.
“We are in the process but we expect a decision by the end of the year,”
Mr. Fischer said. The company could announce a plant choice or kill the
The UAW and VW declined to comment on the report.
VW’s rise to become one of the top three global carmakers is
Arno Antlitz, a brand executive, told a staff meeting of 18,000 workers
at VW’s Wolfsburg headquarters that the company needed further
belt-tightening at all levels, across all regions and at all plants.
Speculation has been swirling since the auto maker first unveiled the
CrossBlue, a three-row diesel-electric plug-in hybrid SUV, aimed for the
U.S. market at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in
January. The vehicle is expected to achieve an estimated fuel economy
rating of 35 miles per gallon combined and 89 mpg equivalent in electric
VW takes pride in its works council model, in which blue-collar and
white-collar workers all vote for plant-level representatives who decide
working conditions in tandem with executives.
intertwined with the influence of labor, whose representatives make up
half of the group’s 20-member supervisory board.
“We need solid earnings power and a competitive cost position,” Antlitz
said in a written statement, without being more specific.
VW Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn reportedly told dealers in July the
auto maker was committed to selling a seven-seat SUV in the U.S.