Volkswagen names new chief executive at Tennessee plant

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Volkswagen Chattanooga

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) – German auto maker Volkswagen has named a new chief executive at its factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Plant spokeswoman Amanda Plecas said in a phone interview Friday that Frank Fischer has been named the new CEO at the factory where 3,800 workers produce the Passat and Atlas vehicles.

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Plecas said employees were notified Thursday about the hiring of Fischer, who was CEO when the plant broke ground in 2008 and began production in 2011. Fischer left Chattanooga three years later for a position at a Volkswagen factory in Germany.

Fischer steps in for Antonio Pinto. Plecas said Pinto is moving to a new assignment in Germany.

The United Auto Workers union filed a new petition Wednesday seeking to hold a vote on its representation of workers at the Chattanooga plant.

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REACTION:

From Southern Momentum, Volkswagen Chattanooga workers who oppose the United Auto Workers:

“I could not be more excited to welcome Frank back to Chattanooga,” said Brandi Gengler, a team member at Volkswagen Chattanooga. “Frank helped build our plant from the ground up and is loved by our employees. Through Frank’s leadership, the Passat was launched into the North American market, and the Atlas is now being built in Chattanooga due in large part to the way he pulled our team together and prepared us for a second line. Our employees cheered today’s news and look forward to seeing Frank back on the plant floor soon.”

“Frank always treated our workforce as family, so it is great to have him back,” said Jeremy Metzger, a team lead at Volkswagen Chattanooga. “Being able to welcome Frank home is a wonderful contrast to the noise we have had to endure lately from outsiders who continue to attack our family here at Volkswagen.”

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Labor Notes, a site for labor activists, has a different take on the announcement:

“Announcing a sudden shake-up in management is a common union-busting tactic. The idea is to convince workers that the company recognizes there are problems, but is making changes that make unionization unnecessary.”

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