FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Daimler said it saw no need for a German-style works council at its plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, rebuffing unions’ efforts to gain influence over foreign-owned U.S. auto plants.
“We just don’t need it,” the production chief for the carmaker’s Mercedes brand, Andreas Renschler, told journalists at the Frankfurt auto show on Tuesday.
Renschler added that while he was “no fan” of the idea, management would remain neutral and leave the decision to workers whether to organize themselves.
“The governor of Alabama (Robert Bentley) said himself that he doesn’t want factories oriented towards trade unions. Workers are happy because they have direct access to management,” Renschler said.
Organized labor in Germany has pushed for the Tuscaloosa plant to have workers’ representation, while U.S. labor union United Auto Workers (UAW) has been trying to organize foreign-owned, U.S.-based auto plants to bolster union membership that has shrunk since its peak in the late 1970s.
Volkswagen AG, Europe’s biggest carmaker, entered talks with the UAW about representing the 2,500 employees at its Chattanooga, Tennessee assembly plant.
The UAW was not immediately available to comment on Renschler’s remarks.
Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner; Additional reporting by Ben Klayman; Writing by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Mark Potter