TheU.S. Chamber of Commercereleased a report Wednesday saying that a German-style works council-like the one thatthe United Auto Workers union has proposed-is at odds with federal law.
Justin Hakes, senior director of communications for the Workforce Freedom Initiativedivision of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said that labor experts with the organization produced the report because the unique local situation caught their attention.
TheWorkforce Freedom Initiativedivision of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a “grassrootsmobilization and advocacy campaign,” in part aimed at blocking “the anti-competitive agenda advocated by many labor unions.”
The chamber isn’t a governing body or regulatory agency for chambers of commerce. For more information, click here.
Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Workforce Freedom Initiative
“The concept of a works council may be more widespread and familiar in Europe, and this is the first time this model had really been suggested in the U.S.,” he said.
In January 2014-just before the UAW’s failed election attempt at VW-theUAW submitted plans to the company about how the union and VW could work together to make a works council happen here.
The UAW proposed a dual model but also wants to bean exclusive bargaining agent for local VW employees.
The chamber’s report discusses the history of the National Labor Relations Act, which has molded the country’s labor relations.
The act created an “adversarial relationship” between unions and employers in the United States that is contrary to the German model, according to the report.
It also highlights what the UAW proposed as its idea for dual representation (further explained in attached document).
The U.S. model is based on having one exclusive representative, and the NLRA prevents a union from delegating any of its representational duties to a works council.
Ultimately, the report concludes that “the evidence is clear that a works council contradicts the most fundamental aspects of U.S. labor law.”
The authors also “wonder if the UAW’s focus on a works council is simply a campaign tactic.”
Local 42 PresidentMike Cantrell said that the UAW and Volkswagen worked together in 2014 with advice from multiple labor attorneys who are experts in state and federal law to develop the works council concept.
“Clearly, both the union and the company believed the concept was compatible with state and federal laws, aligned with the UAW’s policies and consistent with the company’s unique brand of co-determination between management and employees,” he said. “The U.S. chamber is unfortunately mistaken.”
Click here to read more background on the issue; UAW officials have released documents they said show consensus among Volkswagen leaders that the best route to establishing a works council in Chattanooga is through their union.
But VW officials have not publicly said they had an agreement with the UAW. According to Nooga.com archives,VW officials don’t comment directly on the issue. They have only said that they are working with both ACE and the UAW under the company’s engagement policy.
UAW rival union American Council of Employees attorney Maury Nicely said the report reinforces what ACE has said all along and that VW employees should take notice of the chamber’s document.
He said that ACE differs from the UAW in that it doesn’t aim to provide exclusive representation. The exclusive representation component is part of what doesn’t jibe with the UAW’s vision and the NLRA.
“ACE is inclusive where the UAW is divisive,” Nicely said.
A Volkswagen spokesman had no comment on the report.