UAW in Talks to Represent VW Plant Workers in Tenn.

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VW chattanooga tennessee plant passat
Erik Schelzig/APWorkers assemble a Volkswagen Passat at the German automaker's Chattanooga, Tenn., plant.
By Bernie Woodall
and Ben Klayman


DETROIT -- Volkswagen AG and the United Auto Workers said they are in talks about the U.S. union's bid to represent workers at the German carmaker's Tennessee plant, which would be a milestone in the UAW's long-running effort to organize foreign-owned auto plants.

Volkswagen officials, in a letter distributed to workers at the Chattanooga, Tenn., plant Thursday night and Friday morning shifts, said worker representation at the plant can only be realized by joining with a U.S. trade union.

"In the U.S., a works council can only be realized together with a trade union," Fischer's letter says. "This is the reason why Volkswagen has started a dialogue with the UAW in order to check the possibility of implementing an innovative model of employee representation for all employees."

The letter to the 2,500 Chattanooga workers was signed by Frank Fischer, chief operating officer and manager of the plant, and Sebastian Patta, head of human resources in Chattanooga.

UAW President Bob King has been trying without success thus far to organize foreign-owned, U.S.-based auto plants to bolster membership in the union, which has fallen from its peak in the late 1970s. The UAW has been working with the German union IG Metall to try to organize workers at the Volkswagen plant.

King is open to what Fischer called "an innovative model" in order to gain acceptance by workers at foreign-owned auto plants, which are primarily in the U.S. South.
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"VW workers in Chattanooga have the unique opportunity to introduce this new model of labor relations to the United States, in partnership with the UAW," the UAW said in a statement Friday morning.

"If Bob King can get his foot in the door at Chattanooga, even if it's just a works council, it's pretty significant," a former auto executive at a foreign automaker with U.S. plants, who wished to remain anonymous, said earlier this week.

On Wednesday, during a call about Volkswagen's U.S. sales, Jonathan Browning, head of the company in the United States, said: "We've been very clear that that process has to run its course, that no management decision has been made and that it may or may not conclude with formal third-party representation."

Browning also said that ultimately, the decision on whether to have third-party representation will be decided by Chattanooga's workers by a formal vote.

There was no indication in the letter to workers when such a vote would be held.

The UAW also confirmed that King met last Friday with VW executives and officials from the company's "global works council," which represents VW blue- and white-collar employees around the world.

The UAW said last week's meeting, "focused on the appropriate paths, consistent with American law, for arriving at both Volkswagen recognition of UAW representation at its Chattanooga facility and establishment of a German-style works council."

At VW plants, workers are represented by so-called works councils, which include laborers as well as executives who cooperate to determine issues ranging from company strategy to job conditions. They do not negotiate wages or benefits.

Volkswagen has about 100 plants worldwide, and all of them except for the Chattanooga factory and the company's six plants joint venture plants in China have such a council, an expression of the company's belief in what it calls "co-determination."

While the UAW, and VW in its letter to Chattanooga workers, say that a U.S. trade union must be allied with any group of workers at a foreign-owned company, some disagree.

"Volkswagen workers can discuss their work with their employer without UAW unionization," Mark Mix, president of the anti-union National Right to Work Foundation, said in a statement Thursday.

"The UAW's campaign of misrepresentation is meant only to misinform workers into thinking that they have no choice but to unionize," Mix said.

The anti-union organization is based in Virginia.

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UAW in Talks to Represent VW Plant Workers in Tenn.

By Michael Zak | AOL Autos

A recent Interest.com study looked at the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the United States to see which median-income households in those respective areas can afford to purchase a new car, the average price of which was $30,550 in 2012, according to TrueCar. The study found that in only one city can residents actually afford a car with this sticker price -- Washington, D.C.

Households with an average income in Washington, D.C. can afford a payment of up to $628, which would allow for purchase of a $31,940 vehicle. The next closest city, San Francisco, can only afford $537 per month, equating to a $26,786.

While it's not news that Americans like to buy things that they can't afford, the data is a little surprising given how many great cars there are out there for well under $30,000. Solid hybrids, CUVs, sedans and sports cars can all be had for less than this.

We've racked our brains and come up with 5 of the best cars that are cheaper than the average car's purchase price. These are affordable, versatile, fun and fuel efficient. Of course, there are some stinkers in this price range, as well, so we've included 5 vehicles we think you should avoid.

Subaru BRZ

MSRP: $25,495 - $27,495
Invoice: $24,327 - $26,112
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg City, 30 mpg Highway

The Subaru BRZ proves that driving bliss doesn't have to cost a fortune. The rear-wheel drive sports coupe is one of the most engaging vehicles on the road today, with utterly superb dynamics and looks. The best part? You can have one for $25,495.

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Volkswagen Golf

MSRP: $18,095 - $25,200
Invoice: $17,371 - $24,192
Fuel Economy: 23 mpg City, 33 mpg Highway

Although the redesigned 2014 version of this handsome hatch will be on sale in the near future, the current generation is still worth buying. It's fuel efficient, fun and surprisingly versatile. Starting at less than $20,000, the Golf is also quite affordable.

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Toyota Prius v

MSRP: $26,650 - $30,295
Invoice: $24,809 - $28,202
Fuel Economy: 44 mpg City, 40 mpg Highway

The Toyota Pirus v is essentially a bigger version of the popular Prius hybrid. This hatchback acheives stellar fuel economy while allowing for transport of numerous people and all of their stuff. Starting at $26,650, you can have all the benefits of a versatile hybrid for an agreeable price.

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Mazda CX-5

MSRP: $20,995 - $28,595
Invoice: $20,396 - $27,771
Fuel Economy: 26 mpg City, 35 mpg Highway

The Mazda CX-5 is one of our favorite crossovers here at AOL Autos even when taking more expensive ones into account. Remarkably fun to drive, fuel efficient and starting at a low price, there's a lot to love about this agile utility vehicle.

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MSRP: $16,695 - $21,115
Invoice: $16,208 - $20,218
Fuel Economy: 28 mpg City, 38 mpg Highway

This small sedan continue to be the darling of both critics and consumers nationwide. Available with tons of standard features, great looks and sweet fuel economy, the Elantra is one of the best cars on the planet right now.

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MSRP: $18,995 - $32,820
Invoice: $18,770 - $31,334
Fuel Economy: 21 mpg City, 29 mpg Highway

The 200 is a holdover from when Chrysler was owned by Daimler and then private equity-firm Cerberus Capital. It's not that this car is awful, especially since the new Chrysler, managed by Fiat, made a series of improvements. It's that the other cars in this category are so good, and much better designed and engineered.

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MSRP: $18,725 - $21,815
Invoice: $17,789 - $20,725
Fuel Economy: 23 mpg City, 31 mpg Highway

The Scion tC is intended to be a sporty coupe. The problem? It's not sporty. At all. In fact, the tC finds itself on the Consumer Reports list of the least fun cars to drive and we're inclined to agree with that assessment.

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MSRP: $18,995 - $30,795
Invoice: $18,800 - $29,276
Fuel Economy: 19 mpg City, 26 mpg Highway

Short on features and with pretty poor driving dynamics, the Dodge Journey is one you should skip if you're shopping for a sub-$30,000 crossover. We're looking forward to Dodge's next attempt.

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MSRP: $25,900 - $29,200
Invoice: $24,452 - $27,507
Fuel Economy: 24 mpg City, 35 mpg Highway

Don't be fooled by the badge. This is not really a luxury car. With uninspired driving dynamics and a lackluster interior, you should pass on the ILX even though its low sticker price seems very tempting.

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MSRP: $12,490 - $17,890
Invoice: $11,616 - $16,638
Fuel Economy: 34 mpg City, 38 mpg Highway

The idea of the smart fortwo is great. It's the execution that's the problem. The fortwo is loud, terrible to drive and really isn't all that fuel efficient, considering its size. There are way better options between $10,000 and $20,000.

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