CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WATE) — Workers at Volkswagen will see a $1.50 base wage hike and have their bonus system overhauled beginning in two weeks.
The starting production rate will increase to $17.50 from $16, and the starting maintenance rate will increase to $25.20 from $23.70.
President and CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga Tom du Plessis cited the Atlas SUV’s success as a contributing factor to the changes.
“We have an exciting product portfolio now,” du Plessis said. “We are increasing our volume in the SUV market, building for the U.S. in the U.S. Our team should see the benefits of our success because they are the ones who help make it possible.”
Prior to today’s wage announcement, the factory implemented a new self-driven bonus system. Employees will see the first payout of this new system on Friday, Feb. 28.
The company’s bonuses will now be based on individual attendance and workplace conduct. The plant’s previous bonus structure was based on a mix of individual, shop-specific and company-wide targets.
In total, a 16% bonus is achievable on top of overtime pay.
“We looked at targets they could own independently which can also impact our overall safety, quality and productivity,” said du Plessis. “The bonus system is much easier to understand now, and the response we’ve received from the team has been overwhelmingly positive.”
With overtime, bonus and shift differential, production employees have an earning potential of around $46 per hour, and maintenance employees can earn up to around $58 per hour on off-shift overtime.
Shift schedules were also changed to help manage increasing demand for the Atlas the launches of the 2020 Passat and Atlas Cross Sport.
Based on employee preference, the assembly and paint shops will return to a five-day work week with two nine-hour shifts beginning in March.
Other shops are planning to return to a five-day work week, with three eight-hour shifts in the body shop and two 10-hour shifts with an alternating day off for finish and quality assurance.
Employees also voted on preferred shift start-times as well as dates for summer shutdown.