1 VW plant, 2 unions: UAW foes get a voice

Workers who fought the UAW's organizing drive in Chattanooga now have a union of their own. A group called the American Council of Employees (ACE) last week won recognition to represent some of the Volkswagen plant's hourly and salaried workers, many of whom opposed the UAW's organizing drive. The UAW is there, too, with a local in Chattanooga that represents more than 45 percent of hourly workers. That creates an arrangement that's unique in the U.S. auto industry: two groups -- one expressly opposed to the other -- representing workers of the same plant, defying the concept of solidarity that has long underpinned the U.S. organized-labor movement. It also creates a peculiar set of challenges. To amplify its voice, the ACE will have to transition from an opposition group to a more official voice for workers. And it will have to show workers that it is substantially different from the UAW, yet equivalent to it. The contrast will affect how well each group can attract more members, said Marick Masters, a professor of management in the School of Business and director of Labor@Wayne. "I think the UAW is in a far superior position," Masters said. "They have a lot of expertise to bring to bear on a lot of topics."

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