UAW says will be in VW's Tennessee plant by June - paper

FRANKFURT Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:18am EST

FRANKFURT Jan 14 (Reuters) - The head of the United Auto Workers (UAW) is convinced the union will be represented in carmaker Volkswagen's plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, by June, he told a German newspaper.

A clear majority of employees at the plant wanted to be represented by the UAW and they have signed a declaration of intent to that effect, UAW President Bob King told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper in an interview.

Volkswagen (VW) has called for a formal vote by employees.

"We are also working well with the company. VW has been very fair in its dealings with us and wants its employees to have a voice," King said, adding that the union was not putting pressure on employees at the plant to back the union.

The UAW has pushed VW to accept a German-style labour council at the plant in Chattanooga, which would require the involvement of the U.S. union under American labour law.

VW said in September it was in talks with the UAW about establishing such a labour council at the plant, which would be a first for the U.S. union.

The UAW, which has lost membership over the past three decades because of increasing automation and job cutbacks by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, wants to organise VW workers to gain a toehold in the U.S. south, where foreign automakers have non-union factories.

King, who is due to step down from his post as president in June, said his union was working to represent workers at Daimler's and BMW's plants in the southern states of Alabama and South Carolina, as well as at plants of Japanese auto maker Nissan, which opposes the union.

The UAW was cooperating with Daimler's works council and German union IG Metall but had yet to persuade management to accept the union. "I find it surprising that Daimler is not making sure its American management is sticking to global standards," King said.

"We also are maintaining contact with BMW, but we are concentrating for the moment on VW, Nissan and Daimler. It is simply a question of resources," he said.