published Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Anti-UAW workers get voice in union appeal of VW vote

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    Factory workers stand near the assembly line in the assembly center at the Chattanooga Volkswagen Plant.
    Photo by Doug Strickland.
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Poll
Should the VW plant be unionized?

Opponents of the United Auto Workers will be able to make their arguments against the union when a hearing officer considers a request by the UAW for another election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga.

The National Labor Relations Board has agreed to grant standing for VW employees opposed to the UAW and their legal representatives from the National Right to Work Foundation and a local anti-UAW group known as Southern Momentum.

The UAW wants a new election following the 712-626 vote against the union during balloting by the VW workers in Chattanooga last month. The union claims that state legislators and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., interfered in the vote by threatening to withhold state incentives if the plant was unionized and by suggesting that a plant expansion was more likely if workers rejected the union. UAW President Bob King called the politicians' comments "outrageous" and said they interfered with the otherwise neutral playing field for the workers to decide on the union.

Volkswagen said the union vote had nothing to do with whether it will expand its plant in Chattanooga and the auto maker issued a statement last week against the union opponents being heard at the hearing on a new election.

VW attorney Steven Swirsky said the company "does not believe there is any basis for the motions to intervene to be granted."

But the NLRB agreed Monday to allow the union critics to make their arguments at an upcoming hearing on whether to grant a new unionization vote. No hearing date is set yet for the NLRB hearing officer to review the evidence, however.

Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation, said he is "very pleased that, despite attempts by Volkswagen and UAW officials to keep workers out of this process, the acting Regional Director has ruled that the workers are entitled to defend their vote" against the UAW.

"The decision over whether or not to unionize is supposed to lie with the workers, which makes the attempt by VW and the UAW to shut them out of this process all the more shameful," he said.

Maury Nicely, an attorney representing other VW workers for Southern Momentum, also welcomed the NLRB decision to grant standing to the union opponents.

"We'll be able to present evidence, cross examine witnesses and make our arguments and briefs as allowed by the NLRB and we obviously think this is a good decision," Nicely said.

Michele Martin, communications director for the United Auto Workers, said the union had no comment on the NLRB decision. She said the UAW presented additional evidence last week in support of its claim that a new election should be conducted, but she declined to release the additional filings to the labor board.

about Dave Flessner...

Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...

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