February 01, 2019
The global trade union federation IndustriALL suspended its 2002 agreement with Volkswagen on global labor standards over the issue of trade union recognition in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Volkswagen is one of fewer than 100 companies in the world that has an agreement with a global union federation. The “Declaration on Social Rights and Industrial Relations at Volkswagen” sets out agreed labor standards and company senior management meets regularly with employee representatives around the world. The Declaration includes a commitment to recognize trade unions and to bargain with them.
IndustriALL General Secretary Valter Sanchez said, “We regret Volkswagen’s behavior, and as long as the company refuses to honor its 2002 commitment with IndustriALL we see no other alternative than to consider the agreement suspended as of today, while we consider further actions together with our affiliated unions.” Volkswagen has mostly good relationships with its trade unions around the world. It is to be seen what those “further actions” might be.
VW caught the attention of many when company management supported a move by the UAW in 2013 to organize the previously non-union Chattanooga plant. In a widely publicized vote in February 2014, VW employees rejected the proposal. In December 2015, a group of certain maintenance workers assigned in various areas of the plant voted to be represented by the union, but the company refused to deal with a “sub group” and has appealed an NLRB decision against them.