Volkswagen isn't making light of it. Too many of the workers being hired at VW's new $1 billion plant at Chattanooga, TN, are overweight and don't fit the trim, reliable image of the "industrial athletes" the company wants, so VW has included a fitness training program along with its usual job training.
The Chattanooga fitness program, which has PR overtones, is unique for VW plants worldwide, and it appears to be working.
"I felt like my hand was being forced a little bit," said Anthony Staton, a newly hired assembly worker to USA Today. "That first week was really rough. After the first week I started noticing some changes in my body. I could do a flight of stairs a little more easily. I didn't get winded as easily."
The new VW employees take the "on the clock" fitness training after three weeks of orientation training and health testing. It's administered by a professional fitness company.
The Chattanooga area is home to Little Debbie snack cakes, MoonPies, and Krstal burgers, and being overweight isn't there, let's say, unknown. The VW workouts are tailored to the jobs the workers will be doing in assembly, the paint shop, or the body shop. It's aimed, says a VW wellness specialist, into transforming them into something like "industrial athletes."
The slimmed-down VW workers won't hurt the image of the mid-sized autos they'll be producing, trimmer in design than the traditional VW "bug."
We're all for fitness and good health, and wish the VW employees well in achieving trimmer profiles. We can't help wondering, though, what the UAW would make of the mandatory program.
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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