Monday, January 20, 2014

Finken & Kochan on Possible VW Works Council

VWWe've been following the talks between the UAW and VW's Chattanooga plant for a while now, especially the possibility that the parties will end up with a works council-style system (e.g., see here and here).  As expected, groups such as the National Right to Work Lega Defense Foundation are already attacking the possible relationship--arguing, among other things, that they would violate Section 8(a)(2).  Matt Finkin (Illinois) and Thomas Kochan (MIT) just published an op-ed in the LA Times, arguing that a works council arrangement would be legal in the U.S.  An excerpt:

For years, labor law, labor economics and labor-management researchers like us have urged experimentation with works councils in the United States. Volkswagen and the United Auto Workers are proposing to do just that at Volkswagen's Tennessee plant. This could be a watershed in American labor relations, one that rejects the outmoded adversarial doctrines that have built up in U.S. labor law and practice. And it signals management and labor support for a new model of cooperation and partnership.

Unfortunately, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and others are opposing this effort by arguing that such cooperation would violate U.S. labor law's 1935 ban on sham or "company" dominated unions.

A comparison of German and American labor law makes it clear they are dead wrong. . . . 

For what it's worth, I've been researching this and related issues for some time, and completely agree that there is no Section 8(a)(2) issue with a well-designed bargaining relationship.  But before we find that out VW, the UAW, and the employees will have to finally make all this speculation come to fruition.  So stay tuned.

Hat Tip: Wilma Liebman


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