published Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Chattanooga VW workers seek injunction in UAW case

Factory workers stand near the assembly line in the assembly center at the Chattanooga Volkswagen Plant.
Factory workers stand near the assembly line in the assembly center at the Chattanooga Volkswagen Plant.
Photo by Doug Strickland.
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Should there be another UAW vote at VW?

Lawyers for three Chattanooga Volkswagen workers who have sued the carmaker in federal court have asked for a preliminary injunction to prevent VW from providing organizing assistance to the United Auto Workers in the event of a revote.

"Obviously, the Volkswagen employees who filed this case hope first and foremost that their vote is not overturned as requested by UAW officials," said Patrick Semmens of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. "But in the event that the NLRB does throw out the results of the vote, a preliminary injunction would help ensure a more level playing field during a rerun."

Court papers said the workers want to keep Volkswagen from paying or delivering "organizing assistance, and things of value similar to the organizing assistance, to the UAW."

Last week, employees at the Chattanooga plant filed the lawsuit seeking to block what they called further collusion between the company and the UAW should the National Labor Relations Board order a new unionization election at VW's Chattanooga plant. Last month, the UAW lost an organizing bid at the plant by a 712-626 vote.

The UAW has called the lawsuit "baseless" and typical of legal challenges against unions made by the National Right to Work Foundation.

"At the time it negotiated its Election Agreement with Volkswagen Group of America, the UAW had already established for the company that it was the majority representative of hourly Volkswagen employees, on the lawful basis of authorization cards signed by a majority of such employees," UAW President Bob King said in a statement.

The suit charged that VW illegally colluded with union last year to give the UAW access to VW names and facilities. In exchange, the suit said, the union would agree to hold down costs if it won representation.

The three employees, Michael Burton, Michael Jarvis, and David Reed, claimed in the suit against VW and the UAW that the company tried to help the union get representation at the plant and to limit what the union could bargain over in any subsequent contract talks.

The lawsuit was filed by Chattanooga attorney Bill Horton and Springfield, Va., attorney William Messenger.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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