CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Volkswagen workers from the Chattanooga, Tenn., facility called for an end to the interference in their election by outside special interest groups and politicians. The workers will vote in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Feb. 12–14, 2014. Following the election announcement, special interest groups like the National Right to Work Committee, and Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform launched an intense campaign in Chattanooga, aimed at swaying the outcome of the vote.
“We feel very fortunate that Volkswagen has committed to remain neutral and let workers make this decision on our own,” said Volkswagen worker Chris Brown. “But it’s really unfair that people who don’t even work at Volkswagen are trying to influence our vote.”
“Volkswagen has remained completely neutral and workers, whether for or against the union, are allowed equal access to speak freely, distribute literature and campaign for their beliefs,” said Volkswagen worker Michael Cantrell. “But the billboards, advertising and press activities by those not even from our community leave a bad taste in my mouth. We also placed our trust in elected officials but they’ve chosen to put their own political interests first and they are interfering in our election, too. It’s just not right.”
“Outsiders are pouring money into Chattanooga to try to sway our votes, but they haven’t spent a day in our plant, and don’t know what it’s like to want to have a voice while you work hard to make an honest living,” said Volkswagen worker Eric Delacy. “Lobbyists from Washington who are funding this campaign don’t understand that when they pack up and move on to the next fight, we’ll still be here. This is our community, and our workplace – and we should be making the decisions about our future. These outside special interests should leave the vote to those that it actually matters to – the workers and their families.”
“Other politicians should follow the lead of Senator Corker and respect these workers’ right to make up their own minds,” said UAW Region 8 Director Gary Casteel.
The Volkswagen workers are hoping for a new collaborative approach with Volkswagen Group of America (VWGOA) based on the principles of co-determination that would include the formation of a works council at its Chattanooga facility. This would be the first works council established in the United States. Chattanooga is the only major Volkswagen assembly facility without labor representation. With a works council, the Chattanooga plant would have a seat at the VW Global Group Works Council. Ultimately, such a labor relations model would give workers an integral role in co-managing the company and providing input on workplace improvements that would contribute to the success of the company and the workers.
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