U.S. Sen. Bob Corker said Tuesday that union organization at Volkswagen is "incomprehensible" and that the company will become a "laughingstock" if leaders make a deal for United Auto Workers representation, according to The Associated Press.
Corker said he was dismayed to learn that Volkswagen leaders sent a letter to workers about the discussion with the UAW and the possibility of creating a German-style works council at the local factory.
Last week, The Associated Press also reported that Frank Fischer, Volkswagen Chattanooga CEO, and Sebastian Patta, head of human resources at Volkswagen Chattanooga, sent a letter notifying employees about talks with UAW officials regarding a works council.
"The company states in the letter that it’s engaged in talks with the UAW because in the United States a works council can only be established through an established trade union," according to The Associated Press.
Corker has questioned whether that is a requirement, also according to The Associated Press.
But in March, Chattanooga attorney Maury Nicely, who specializes in labor and employment, said that there is a section of the National Labor Relations Act that forbids companies to have an internal union.
In Germany, companies typically have work councils, which are similar to unions in the United States, because its members help represent workers’ interests. But in Germany, the representation is from within the company, not a third-party organization, according to Nooga.com archives.
Click here to read more on the law and works council.
For more than a year, leaders with the United Auto Workers Union have been eyeing Chattanooga's Volkswagen plant, and they are having discussions about the possibility of creating a German-style labor board.
Last week, President of Volkswagen America Jonathan Browning addressed the possibility of unionization at the local plant, saying that company leaders are looking for an "innovative solution" to the situation in which employees can have a strong voice locally and globally.
"We've been very clear that the process has to run its course," he said when asked about negotiations between VW and UAW leaders. "No decision has been made. It may or may not conclude with third-party representation."
And he repeated what Volkswagen leaders have constantly said—the final decision is up to employees.
Also last week, members of the Virginia-based National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation sent information to Volkswagen employees, encouraging them to "get the facts" before signing a UAW petition or card or giving contact information to union organizers.
The organization sent a "special legal notice," which can be viewed here, to the employees.
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