UAW in Talks with Volkswagen to Unionize Chattanooga Assembly Plant

By Jacob Brown | September 03, 2013
You've probably heard this one before, but the UAW and Volkswagen are back in talks about unionizing VW's lone U.S. plant. What you haven't heard is that it's getting serious.
Long thought that the South was untouchable, it looks like the UAW has finally zoned in on VW's Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant, and it's in it to win it. The UAW and VW held talks on Friday, according to a report by Automotive News, reportedly considering the structure of how they'd join forces. Reportedly, VW wants a German-style "works council" with both blue-collar factory workers and executives working on the same board. The automaker already has a similar setup with IG Metall over in Germany.
However, no foreign automaker has a union relationship in the U.S. outside of Mitsubishi. Its plant in Normal, Illinois, was originally co-owned with Chrysler. Several automakers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz have had U.S. plants in the South since the late-1990s without unionization. Now, some experts say that if VW and the UAW join forces, the other companies will surely follow.
Currently, Volkswagen produces 150,000 Passat midsize sedans per year in Chattanooga, and it has the capacity to expand to 500,000 with a little work. VW showed off a concept crossover called the Cross Blue at the Detroit Auto Show, and it would fill that space nicely. A UAW agreement would solidify the crossover's place in the U.S., as VW is also studying if it would make sense to build the SUV in its other plant in Mexico. Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)