Volkswagen workers talk candidly about UAW union election
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Research is what many people do if they know they have to make a decision.
“Everything I can dig up,” Volkswagen Team Member Bryan Dyke said.
For Dyke that decision could be on how to vote in a UAW election.
And what he’s found leads him to feel like a union might not be a good fit.
“We have real excellent benefits at work and if you go back and try to renegotiate something, there’s no telling what you might end up with,” Dyke said.
Volkswagen Team Leader Annette Stallion said if the election comes, she hopes it passes.
She’s a member of the Local 42 micro-union and sees unionizing as a positive.
“If we are allowed to be unionized, then we can sit down with upper management and just go over some of our issues and maybe we can have a voice in the decisions that are made for us,” Stallion said.
Tennessee is a right to work state.
That means unions can negotiate the contracts, but workers are not forced to pay dues.
“Right now if we’re on the floor and something, you’re upset about something you can have your supervisor call HR. They can call our GM to come down or whatever and most of the time if they can they’ll come down and talk to you, you know. That will all be gone we won’t be able to just have that one-on-one communication,” Volkswagen Team Lead Keri Menendez said
Volkswagen workers said the union election is often talked about in the plant.
Menendez is with an anti-union group Southern Momentum.
She described campaigning that’s created a split with employees.
“So the intimidation and everything is already there you know and I feel if they get in it will be worse especially with the people who don’t join,” Menendez said.
“The main thing that we are calling for is we want to see the workers be able to make that decision for themselves without interference,” Austin Sauerbrei said.
Sauerbrei is with the Chattanooga Area Labor Council.
The group is a network of 17 local labor unions in the area, representing over 5,000 workers.
They’re planning to have a gathering at Miller Park Monday from 5:30p-7:00p to stand in solidarity with the VW workers wanting a UAW election.
“As community members, we feel like we’ve invested a lot of taxpayer money to bring VW into our city and we’re glad that they’re here, but we feel like the workers in Chattanooga need to have a voice in the workplace,” Sauerbrei said.
But first workers have to vote the UAW in.
Last time employees took a vote in a similar election, they voted it down.