Deception seems to be the name of the game at Volkswagen. As if the diesel emissions scandal wasn’t enough, Volkswagen is now deceiving working people at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Workers in the skilled trades division of the plant last year voted overwhelmingly to join the UAW to create a better workplace. Volkswagen executives promised to respect the workers’ vote, but now the company is going back on its word.
Volkswagen is refusing to negotiate with workers and choosing instead to use the legal system to evade that responsibility.
This isn’t the first instance of dirty tactics working people at the Chattanooga plant have faced. In 2014, workers were voting to elect the UAW as their collective bargaining representative when Tennessee politicians and big money interests ran an intense campaign of threats and intimidation. Some Tennessee legislators went so far as to threaten to take away economic incentives from Volkswagen if it allowed people at the plant to form a union.
Now Volkswagen is continuing with the deceitful tactics. The company’s refusal to negotiate with skilled trades workers is not only a reversal of its pre-election statements, but violates its own Declaration on Social Rights and Industrial Relationships.
To regain the trust of its stakeholders, Volkswagen must make corporate social responsibility more than just a slogan and a public relations strategy. It must recognize that emissions controls are meant to limit the social costs of air pollution, and that negotiating collectively helps create and sustain a productive and secure workplace.