Unions, including the UAW, may promise employees wage increases and other improvements in the conditions of employment to get employees to sign union cards and/or vote for the union. However, the actual law about how collective bargaining works states that employees could just as likely end up with the same or less than they have now.
The fact is, every term and condition of employment – not just those that might be contained in the union’s proposal – is negotiable. Despite what unions typically say, employees could wind up as a result of negotiations with less, the same or more.
Won’t it mean more money for me if the UAW gets in?
No, not necessarily. All a union can do is ask. The law does not require companies to agree to specific proposals.
If the UAW wins an election, will Volkswagen automatically have to agree to the union’s demands?
No. Volkswagen does not have to agree to any demand that it feels is not good for business and might be harmful to the Company. Our production and maintenance employees would not receive any “automatic” wage increase, bonus, or improvement because of a union victory. Everything would be subject to negotiations and nothing is guaranteed.
Won’t a union ensure my job security in a contract?
No Union and no Company can guarantee to never shut down its operations, close a location or lay off employees. True job security comes from our performance as a plant. If we continue to be competitive and grow our market share, we won’t have to worry about things like location shutdowns and mass layoffs. Please keep in mind that the Company has not laid off a single full-time Volkswagen employee since opening in Chattanooga in 2010, while other auto manufacturers have had closures and layoffs. Some of these manufacturers’ locations have been union and some have been non-union.
How long would it take the UAW to get a contract with Volkswagen?
There is no timetable. Negotiations can take many months or sometimes even years before the parties reach either an agreement or an impasse. And, sometimes, even after lengthy bargaining, a company and union never reach agreement on a labor contract. We simply don’t know and neither does the UAW.
If the UAW is voted in, do I automatically get a wage increase or different benefits?
No. The law requires bargaining in good faith. This means the parties would simply be required to meet and discuss things. The UAW can ask for things, and Volkswagen has the right to say “no” to any proposal it does not agree with. After negotiations, your wages and benefits could be less, stay the same, or could be more. No one can predict the result of negotiations. Indeed, Section 8(d) of the National Labor Relations Act states that “[the bargaining] obligation does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or require the making of a concession.”
Can wages and benefits be reduced as a result of collective bargaining?
Yes. In collective bargaining negotiations, the wages and benefits that you currently enjoy could be lost or traded for something else. Wages, benefits and working conditions could get better, stay the same, or they could get worse.
The UAW showed me a contract from another manufacturing location and told me that we will have the same contract or better at Volkswagen, is that true?
The UAW cannot guarantee that. Every negotiation is different. What another company may have agreed to with a union has nothing to do with Volkswagen. In collective bargaining, Volkswagen can say “no” to any proposal that it disagrees with, regardless of whether some other employer somewhere else agreed.
What happens if Volkswagen and the UAW cannot agree on a collective bargaining agreement?
If a company and a union cannot agree after engaging in good faith bargaining, normally the company makes its final proposal, often called a “last, best, and final offer.” In response, the union normally will ask its members to vote on the proposal. If the members of the bargaining unit vote to accept (or “ratify”) the offer, then the parties have a collective bargaining agreement. If the members of the bargaining unit reject the offer, then there is no agreement. If there is no agreement, the parties may agree to restart negotiations, or the union may decide to strike. If the parties restart negotiations, neither side is required to change its position. Also, once a genuine impasse is reached, the company may implement unilaterally its last, best, and final offer. Under the UAW’s Constitution only “members” of the union can vote on whether to accept/reject a collective bargaining agreement or to go on strike. See UAW Constitution, Art. 19, Sec. 2; Art. 50, Sec. 1.
Who will be on the UAW bargaining committee?
We don’t know. The UAW will decide who negotiates on its behalf.