The agreement made between leaders with Volkswagen and the United Auto Workers outlines intentions to implement a hybrid of German and American union representation models if employees vote in favor of the UAW in next week's secret ballot elections, according to documents obtained by Nooga.com.
It includes plans for a German-style works council, outlines boundaries for UAW campaigning before the election and mandates that the factory’s operations not be disturbed during the process.
—The election will be three days long, from Feb. 12 to 14. The polls will be open at set times and locations Feb. 12-13 from 6 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. and Feb. 14 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. "to allow for maximum opportunity for eligible employees to vote if they wish."
—The election will include hourly employees. Temporary or contract workers aren’t included in voting.
—Southern Momentum, a nonprofit group organized by Chattanooga VW team members, announced that they are holding an informational meeting for any interested VW team members and their families Saturday. The meeting will take place Saturday at 10 a.m. in the ballroom at the Embassy Suites, Hamilton Place, 2321 Lifestyle Way.
—Gov. Bill Haslam said again this week he thinks the UAW's presence will hurt economic development. Click here for more.
Monday’s announcement that Volkswagen employees will get a vote about whether they want to be represented by the United Auto Workers focused national attention on the Chattanooga plant.
"An election of this magnitude—you don’t see it that much," local labor attorney Jimmy F. Rodgers Jr., with Summers and Wyatt, said this week.
The election agreement documents reveal more about the German dual model, including works council representation.
Dual representation is the German unionization model in which there is representation both from an internal works council and an external union, according to archives.
If the workers approve UAW representation in next week’s secret ballot election, many have said it would be seen as a "win" for the union, which has seen declining membership in the past decade.
For some leaders of Volkswagen AG, UAW representation is a way to get what they want, which is for the Chattanooga plant to be a part of the Global Works Council.
Federal law doesn’t allow for a works council to be formed in the United States the same way it is done in Germany.
UAW and VW officials agreed that the process will be "nonadversarial" and that neither side can make untruthful or derogatory comments about the other.
This sort of cooperation between an employer and a union is unique in the United States, Rodgers also said.
"Most employers try to challenge [a union]," he said this week before the election agreement was released.
Until the election, UAW representatives will have access to the local factory, including a designated room and locations where union leaders can post announcements and provide literature, according to the agreement.
Union representatives are not "permitted to enter production, manufacturing or other work areas," and the agreement also stipulates that the plant’s productivity not be impacted.
UAW reps aren’t allowed to visit VW employees at home unless asked to, and VW employees aren’t required to attend meetings when UAW officials will speak, according to the agreement.
UAW officials spoke to workers this week in an all-team meeting, and according to a news release from Maury Nicely—with local law firm Evans Harrison Hackett, which is representing some Volkswagen employees—some workers were disheartened because they weren't allowed to ask questions after the UAW's pitch.
"When management requires team members to attend a meeting, then invites team members to stay and listen to union officials who won’t take any public questions—let alone allow questions to be asked—something stinks," VW employee Mike Burton, who has organized the No2UAW website, said.
If workers approve the union representation with a majority vote, officials agreed to start negotiating a collective bargaining agreement no later than 30 days after NLRB certification of the election results.
If the UAW isn’t approved, union officials can’t try to organize the plant again for a year, according to the election agreement.
That part of the agreement is nullified if another union makes a "serious, concerted and legitimate effort" to organize VW employees, according to the documents.
The parties agreed to no strikes, picketing, boycotts, work slowdowns or lockouts as they negotiate the collective bargaining agreement.
According to the agreement, both UAW and VW officials agree that "employees shall be able to freely exercise their right to vote in an informed and free manner."
Updated @ 11:43 a.m. on 2/6/14 to add clarification of election times.
Updated @ 1:18 p.m. on 2/6/14 to add Scribd documents.
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