VW Labor Leader Doesn’t Calm TN Governor’s Union Fears

VW's Bernd Osterloh poses with IG Metall's Hartmut Meine. IG Metall is Germany's equivalent to the UAW. Credit: IG Metall

VW’s Bernd Osterloh (left) poses with IG Metall’s Hartmut Meine. IG Metall is Germany’s equivalent to the UAW. Credit: IG Metall

After finally meeting in person with Volkswagen’s top labor official, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam remains just as fearful of the United Auto Workers organizing at the company’s Chattanooga plant. 

With translators in tow, VW’s Bernd Osterloh traveled to the state capitol. The conversation was described by a spokesman for the governor as “frank and fair.” But it was not convincing.

Haslam says his biggest concern is getting VW to build another vehicle in Chattanooga. The German automaker has said that decision will be based on the cost of labor and attracting suppliers to move nearby.

“Well, it’s hard for me to imagine a scenario in which labor costs are helped by the UAW coming in, and I know that bringing suppliers close will be more difficult.”

Haslam says auto suppliers have specifically warned that they will not move to Tennessee if they feel the UAW has gained a foothold.

As a company, Volkswagen has been open to working with the UAW, whose leaders say it is not the same adversarial union it once was.

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