Volkswagen Board Member Casts Doubt on Chattanooga Building the SUV

Reported by: Bill Mitchell

Edited by: David Moore
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Updated: 2/19/2014 7:15 pm
CHATTANOOGA, TN. (WDEF-TV) - Workers at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant rejected the United Auto Workers union last week.
But today, they and local governmental leaders are wondering if a board member in Germany has changed the game.
The top labor representative on the board indicated he may try to block future expansion here, because the plant is not unionized.

How much influence does V-W board member Bernd Osterloh have?
That's what leaders on both sides of the labor issue want to know.
Most of them have not reacted to a statement by Osterloh yesterday, that another Volkswagen plant ...possibly referring to adding an SUV line, "does not necessarily have to be assigned to the south."

After the union vote, most leaders began looking closer at building a works council, similar to those at other V-W plants.

SEN. BOB CORKER, SATURDAY FEB. 15TH "We have had conversations about this..both at Volkswagen US and Volkswagen Germany at the highest OK, we have never opposed, ever..the concept of a works council. Again, it's the company's decision, not mine."

FRANK FISCHER, V-W CEO, FRIDAY, FEB. 14TH "Throughout the process we found great enthusiasm for the idea of an American style works council..both inside and also outside our factory."

Even the leaders if the anti-UAW group at the plant..have expressed a desire to have a works council.
But there is some doubt it can be formed without a formal union.
And, a works council is not a union.
Half of the board at the German headquarters of Volkswagen represent labor unions, and the board will have to approve any expansion of the plant at Enterprise south.

Sen. Corker said before the union vote that is the UAW was rejected, the board would quickly announce expanded output here.
The mayor of Chattanooga, meanwhile, took the high road in the discussion.

MAYOR ANDY BERKE, CHATTANOOGA "We haven't had any discussions that I can talk about ..what I would tell you is that we sent a letter to try to bring these living wage, middle class jobs here to make sure they know we're committed to doing that. "

Despite Osterloh's comments, VW Germany says a works council expert will come to the United States in the next two weeks to consult with labor experts on how to create a works council in Chattanooga.

Sen. Corker's office tells us he, "continues to be involved in conversations with Volkswagen and remains comfortable that things will work out. "

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