Volkswagen Promises U.S. Dealers Restitution for Tainted Diesels – By WILLIAM BOSTON Updated July 17, 2016 5:41 a.m. ET

Dealers say the TDI Settlement Program affects the nearly 500,000 tainted diesels on the road and another 12,000 vehicles that dealers are unable to sell

Volkswagen is hosting meetings to inform dealers about how it plans to implement a historic roughly $15 billion settlement agreed last month.

Volkswagen is hosting meetings to inform dealers about how it plans to implement a historic roughly $15 billion settlement agreed last month. — PHOTO: REUTERS

Volkswagen AG executives in the U.S. have pledged to unveil restitution within a month for hundreds of American franchise dealers that have been damaged by the car maker’s diesel scandal, according to dealers that met with the company on Friday.

A senior American executive from the German car maker made the pledge at a meeting with more than 150 Volkswagen dealers from the northeast at the Renaissance Hotel in Newark, N.J. that lasted nearly three hours Friday.

The meeting was titled “The TDI Settlement Program,” the first in a series of similar gatherings around the country. Volkswagen is hosting the meetings to inform dealers about how the company plans to implement a historic roughly $15 billion settlement agreed last month with customers and government authorities.

The TDI Settlement Program, explained to dealers at Friday’s meeting, outlined how customers would either sell their cars back to dealers or have them fixed. The dealer program affects the nearly 500,000 tainted diesels on the road today and another 12,000 vehicles that dealers are unable to sell and are storing on their lots, according to documents handed out to dealers at Friday’s meeting.

While dealers listened to Mark McNabb, a senior executive from Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., outline the program, one of them interrupted and turned the discussion to dealers’ demand for compensation, which wasn’t on Volkswagen’s agenda.

Steve Kalafer, a N.J.-based co-owner of a large Volkswagen franchise, voiced frustration that the company still hadn’t committed to any form of compensation for its 650 dealers.

Mr. McNabb told the dealers there was “heavy discussion” at the company and an agreement to provide dealers with “fair restitution,” adding the company would make a decision on the matter within the next month, Mr. Kalafer told The Wall Street Journal in an interview after the meeting.

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Calling an Uber Is Cooler Than Owning a Car—And Automakers Want In – DAVEY ALBA. 05.24.16 . 7:09 PM

People don’t want cars, they want rides. That’s the existential fear plaguing automakers today. And they’re scrambling to do something about it.

Just months after GM poured money into Lyft (the one with the pink mustasche), Toyota and Volkswagen both said today they were joining up with other ride-hailing rivals. In VW’s case, it’s investing $300 million in Israeli ride-hail startup GettToyota, meanwhile, is partnering with Uber to, among other things, let people automatically deduct their car payments from the fares they make as Uber drivers.

Clearly automakers have Silicon Valley envy. Startups are transforming the way people move around cities. In order to stay relevant, car companies are trying to show they understand that on-demand services have changed consumer behavior. Driving yourself around in a car you own, it turns out, isn’t the only way to get around anymore—a trend that’s likely to become only more pronounced when the cars start driving themselves.

To be sure, the actual details provided by the companies about how these joint efforts will work have been scant. Toyota did not disclose how much money it invested in Uber. The two companies merely said they had entered into a “memorandum of understanding” to explore a collaboration. The one concrete detail is that Toyota will create new leasing options that allow drivers to cover their payments through their Uber earnings, a more direct version of Uber’s existing leasing programs.

As for Volkswagen, the beleaguered automaker is still looking for ways to revamp its ruined image following the revelation of a vast scam to cheat on emissions tests. Gett isn’t that well known in the US but is available in 60 cities worldwide, with an especially strong presence in Europe.

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VW to Meet With Regulators as Patience Frays – WSJ

BN-LI661_VWCRIS_J_20151118172033Volkswagen is meeting with U.S. regulators this week amid a contentious relationship with them and their European counterparts who will determine the penalties for its cheating on emissions.

As Volkswagen AG faces a Friday deadline for proposing how it will fix nearly half a million cars tainted by illegal software, the German auto giant is grappling with a contentious relationship with regulators in the U.S. and Europe who will determine the penalties for its emissions cheating.

Two months after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency disclosed that Volkswagen deceived diesel emissions testers for years and later falsely claimed technical problems when challenged, the details of how and why Volkswagen cheated, who was responsible and how it plans to fix affected cars are still largely unclear.

Volkswagen is set to discuss initial recall plans in meetings Thursday and Friday with U.S. and California regulators, an EPA spokeswoman said. On Friday, the company also is expected to provide details of deep spending cuts.

Source: VW to Meet With Regulators as Patience Frays – WSJ

Vox Sentences: Volkswagen made cars smart enough to cheat on emissions tests – by Dylan Matthews and Dara Lind.

The EPA busts Volkswagen; Donald Trump supporters can be scary; and the ethics of ad blockers.


When cars get too smart for their own good


  • A lot of news outlets reported this as a recall of 500,000 Volkswagen (and Audi) cars. The EPA is not recalling the cars yet, and they are fully safe to drive. But it’s hinting an official recall will come at some point in the next year.

    [Environmental Protection Agency]

  • In the first year Volkswagen Jettas were programmed with the illegal “defeat device,” the car manufacturer actually won a tax break for selling fuel-efficient cars.

    [NPR / Bill Chappell]

  • This isn’t the first time that car software has made vehicles harder to regulate. A decade ago, an issue with brakes on Toyotas rested in part on what one engineer called “spaghetti-like” code — code so complex that it was impossible to understand, much less maintain.

    [Safety Research & Strategies]

  • Arguably a bigger problem: The more software is integrated into cars, the more easily cars can be hacked remotely.

    [Vox / Timothy B. Lee]

Donald Trump indulges blatant bigotry. Again.

The Trump supporter in questionCNN

  • Last night, a Donald Trump supporter asked the GOP frontrunner, “We have a problem in this country, it’s called Muslims…We have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question: when can we get rid of ’em?”

    [Vox / Max Fisher]

  • Donald Trump’s response: “We’re gonna be looking at a lot of different things. And you know that a lot of people are saying that, and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We’re going to be looking at that.”
  • Trump’s failure to challenge the assertion that President Obama is a foreign-born Muslim got the first wave of press. But Trump’s encouragement of a man’s desire to “get rid of” American Muslims is a far bigger sin.

    [Politico / Nick Gass]

  • Trump supporters have done some extremely ugly things over the course of this race. And Trump has not only failed to condemn them, this isn’t the first time he’s appeared to encourage them.

    [Vox / Dara Lind]

  • Immigration advocates are collecting a “Trump Hate Map” of harassment of Latinos by Trump supporters. Some of it is standard (if ugly) protester/counterprotester shouting — but it also includes instances of protesters being punched, spat on, and hair-pulled.

    [America’s Voice]

  • The Trump campaign attempted to clarify the candidate’s remarks about Islam by saying he was really talking about the need to protect Christian religious liberty. There was no mention of Christians or religious liberty in the exchange.

    [Mediaite / Josh Feldman]

  • Diverting the conversation to Christian is an increasingly common tactic, though — during the secondary GOP debate Wednesday, candidates responded to questions about the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed for bringing his clock to school by exclaiming that Christians were the “biggest victims” in America.

    [Vox / Max Fisher]

  • (In progressive Internet circles, this kind of derailing is known as playing the “oppression Olympics” and it’s generally seen as a petty and vindictive tactic.)

    [Geek Feminism Wiki]

  • Anyway, here is your explainer on the “Muslim training camps” meme the Trump supporter referenced, which turns out to be a surprisingly popular, Fox News-endorsed conspiracy theory.

    [Vox / Max Fisher]

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How Tenn. politicians killed Volkswagen unionization – By Ned Resnikoff 04/04/14 04:28 PM—UPDATED 04/04/14 06:30 PM

Passat sedans come off the assembly line at the Volkswagen automobile assembly plant, Feb. 21, 2012, in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Passat sedans come off the assembly line at the Volkswagen automobile assembly plant, Feb. 21, 2012, in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Erik S. Lesser/EPA

Right-wing groups may have successfully defeated a unionization bid at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn. manufacturing plant, but it wasn’t a clean victory. Now the United Auto Workers (UAW), the union behind the unsuccessful Chattanooga organizing campaign, is taking the fight to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), alleging that outside groups contaminated the vote – a claim which may be bolstered by recently-leaked documents from the governors’ office.

UAW lost a union election at the Chattanooga plant in mid-February, even though Volkswagen’s corporate leadership gave its blessing to unionization and agreed not to contest the vote. UAW claimed that right-wing politicians and interest groups from outside the state had illegally contaminated the vote by intimidating workers, and in late February it asked the NLRB to declare the vote invalid so that a new one could be held.

“It is extraordinary interference in the private decision of workers to have a U.S. senator, a governor and leaders of the state legislature threaten the company with the denial of economic incentives and workers with a loss of product,” said UAW president Bob King in a statement announcing the NLRB appeal. “We’re committed to standing with the Volkswagen workers to ensure that their right to have a fair vote without coercion and interference is protected.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, has long denied that his administration put economic pressure on Volkswagen to block unionization. But documents obtained by a local TV news channel earlier this week lend credence to the UAW’s claims. On Monday, Tennessee’s News Channel 5 reported it had received leaked documents in which Tennessee state officials explicitly linked the plant’s internal governing structure with economic incentives for Volkswagen.

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Can Germany Reform American Labor Relations? – William Greider March 2014


(Doug Chayka)

A strangely provocative role reversal has developed between two friendly rivals in the global economy. In the past, it was usually the United States that lectured other nations on how they should be more like America. This time, it is a German industrial giant that wants to make the US economy more like Germany’s. Can this happen? Maybe—if American workers agree that the German approach is better.

The issue is labor relations. The German system is more democratic and far more respectful of worker rights. Instead of the relentless unionbusting and virulent anti-labor propaganda common in US industry, German labor law requires consultation and collaboration with workers in the Betriebsrat, or works council—people directly elected by the employees, blue-collar and white-collar alike. At a minimum, German workers are guaranteed a voice in corporate decision-making. The works council is what the Germans proposed for a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga.

Volkswagen did not want to export this German version of labor law to Tennessee for sentimental reasons. VW operates more than 100 car factories around the world in the German manner. The cooperative approach, the company has found, allows more flexible management and more productive assembly lines. Who would be against that?

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Union appeals Volkswagen workers’ rejection in South – February 21, 2014 7:09PM ET`

Screen Shot 2014-02-22 at Feb 22, 2014 2.20

The United Auto Workers (UAW) union is challenging a vote by employees at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., to reject its bid to represent them. In an appeal filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Friday, the union said that “interference by politicians and outside special interest groups” had swayed the vote.

In particular, the appeal took aim at Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican and former Chattanooga mayor, who suggested that a “no” vote would lead to a Volkswagen expansion in the state.

Last week Corker entered the fray over the union vote when he said he had been “assured” that the plant would be given a new SUV production line if it rejected union representation from UAW.

The UAW bid was defeated in a 712-626 vote, even though the German automaker is generally considered labor-friendly.

“It’s an outrage that politically motivated third parties threatened the economic future of this facility and the opportunity for workers to create a successful operating model that would grow jobs in Tennessee,” UAW President Bob King said.

The union had faced a midnight Friday deadline for filing the action with the NLRB. The rejection by the workers dealt a harsh setback to the union, especially since Volkswagen did not oppose the unionization drive.

The Chattanooga plant is Volkswagen’s only factory in the U.S. and one of the company’s few in the world without some form of union representation. The company has been open about its desire to establish a German-style works council at the plant.

“Sen. Corker’s conduct was shameful and undertaken with utter disregard for the rights of the citizens of Tennessee and surrounding states that work at Volkswagen,” the UAW’s filing asserted. “The clear message of the campaign was that voting for the union would result in stagnation for the Chattanooga plant, with no new product, no job security, and withholding of state support for its expansion.”

Corker defended his high-profile opposition to the UAW’s overture. “The workers at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen plant spoke very clearly last week, so we are disappointed the UAW is ignoring their decision and has filed this objection,” he said Friday in a statement.

Tennessee Republican officials, including Gov. Bill Haslam and several state lawmakers, were also critical of the UAW overture.

A Volkswagen spokesman in Chattanooga, Scott Wilson, declined to comment on the appeal.

A spokesman for Haslam would only say that “the governor is focused on working with Volkswagen on future growth in Tennessee.”

The UAW challenge comes days after the top labor representative on Volkswagen’s supervisory board suggested that the anti-union atmosphere fostered by Southern conservatives could lead the company to make future investments elsewhere. Worker representatives make up half of the board that has control over all management decisions at Volkswagen.

Volkswagen has announced plans to spend $7 billion in North America over the next five years.

The vote against the UAW was a setback to the union’s goal of expanding into foreign-owned auto plants in the U.S., particularly those in the South.

The union included various news accounts of remarks by Corker and other Tennessee Republican officials in its filing. It called upon the NLRB to “set aside the election and order that a new election be held.”

Al Jazeera and wire services

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All eyes on Chattanooga: VW’s workers are deciding the future of unions in the South – BY LYDIA DEPILLIS February 13 at 8:13 pm

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Employees at the Volkswagen auto plant here will vote Friday on whether to join the United Auto Workers union, marking the end of a fevered battle between national conservative groups and labor leaders over the future of the right-to-work South.FILE  - In this July 31, 2012 file photo, an employees at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., works on a Passat sedan. A three-day election on whether workers will be represented by the United Auto Workers union concludes on Friday, Feb. 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig, file)

Could life be better for Volkswagen’s line workers?  (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig, file)

If a majority of Volkswagen’s 1,570 hourly workers vote yes, it would mark the first time in nearly three decades of trying that the UAW has successfully organized a plant for a foreign brand in the U.S. This time, the union has a powerful ally: Volkswagen itself, which is hoping the union will collaborate in a German-style “works council” and help manage plant operations.

Tennessee’s GOP leaders — along with well-funded conservative activists like Grover Norquist–aren’t letting the UAW in without a fight. Gov. Bill Haslam  (R) has publicly fretted about the danger of torching the state’s low-cost reputation, and Sen. Bob Corker (R), who wooed VW to town as mayor of Chattanooga, has been barnstorming media outlets to warn against giving the UAW a toehold.

“This is all about money for them. They feel like, if they can get up under the hood with a company in the South, then they can make progress in other places.” Corker said. “There’s no question that the UAW organizing there will have an effect on our community’s ability to continue to recruit businesses.”

National labor leaders agree that Chattanooga would be a seminal victory, and are watching the vote closely.

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