Volkswagen of America said Thursday it will furlough production and maintenance workers at the automaker's assembly complex in Chattanooga, less than nine months after workers there narrowly defeated a second effort to unionize under the UAW.
The plant, idled because of government restrictions to help stem the coronavirus outbreak, employs 3,800 hourly and salaried workers.
The automaker said the "emergency furloughs" would go into effect Saturday, and are "expected to last no more than four weeks. During this time, the company will continue to provide health care benefits and coverage of premiums, paying both employer and employee contributions. Employees will still receive their first quarter bonuses as well as their March monthly bonuses."
Furloughed employees are eligible to receive state unemployment benefits as well as an extra $600 per week in federal compensation under the $2 trillion CARES Act passed last month. Volkswagen employees have received full pay since production was suspended March 21, but this week workers were required to take one paid vacation day, a Volkswagen spokesman said.
The automaker said employees will retain their original seniority dates and accrued paid time off. Those employees not furloughed are taking mandated vacation of one day per week.
In June 2019, hourly employees at the plant narrowly rejected a second organizing try by the UAW by a vote of 833 to 776.