Volkswagen names new chief executive at Tennessee plant

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — German auto maker Volkswagen has named a new chief executive at its factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a company spokeswoman said Friday.

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

Plecas said employees were notified Thursday about the hiring of Fischer, who was CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga Operations 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.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that Fischer was credited with overseeing construction of the Chattanooga factory, which started production on schedule.

Fischer steps in for Antonio Pinto, who replaced Christian Koch in August 2017. Plecas said Pinto is moving to a new assignment for Volkswagen in Germany.

Plecas said the announcement of Fischer's return has nothing to do with recent union activity at the factory.

The United Auto Workers union filed a new petition Wednesday seeking to hold a vote on its representation of workers at the Chattanooga plant, the same day the National Labor Relations Board dismissed a previous petition on a technicality.

Volkswagen has said it is neutral on the issue of unionization, but it has refused to bargain with UAW since the union won representation of maintenance workers at the Chattanooga plant in 2015. VW has argued the bargaining unit needed to include all hourly workers.

After years of back and forth, the union in April asked the labor board to allow a vote for a new bargaining unit, this time including all hourly workers, about 1,700 people.

The board dismissed the petition based on a technicality: UAW was still representing the smaller unit when it sought to represent the new, larger unit.

The union has since ceased representing the smaller unit.