Remember last year when the United Autoworkers Union tried to organize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee? Remember how the UAW failed to win the secret ballot election to represent the VW workers, despite the company welcoming the union at the plant? Well, the UAW was down, but not out. VW and the UAW are now meeting bi-weekly to discuss work issues. And, the UAW may just be the first of several labor organizations certified to meet with management to discuss terms and conditions of employment despite not having won a union election. How is this so?

VW will meet with any organization that is independently certified to represent at least 15% of a group of the Chattanooga workers. So, if a group of workers is made up of 10 employees performing the same job, and 2 of them get an organization to represent them, then VW has to meet with the group. For a workplace with thousands of employees and hundreds of groups of workers, this policy has inefficiency written all over it.

How often a group meets with management, (and what level of management is involved) is determined by how many people in the group are represented. A group representing between 15% and 30% can meet with the human resources department once per month. Groups representing between 30% and 45% of the workers can meet with HR monthly and a member of the VW executive committee quarterly. Groups representing over 45% of the workers will meet with HR twice a month and a member of the executive committee once a month.