published Saturday, May 24th, 2014

Volkswagen workers withdraw lawsuit against UAW

Volkswagen Chattanooga
Volkswagen Chattanooga

Three Volkswagen workers on Friday voluntarily withdrew their federal lawsuit challenging what they said was "a backroom deal" between the United Auto Workers and Volkswagen to bring about a union shop at the Chattanooga plant.

The National Right to Work Foundation, which represented the workers, said the withdrawal was prompted by VW and UAW attorneys' concessions in legal papers that the union cannot seek another election until sometime next year.

Mark Mix, the foundation's president, said the workers and the group successfully defended the result of the February election, in which the UAW lost an organizing vote at the Chattanooga plant by a 53 percent to 47 percent margin.

"Foundation staff attorneys stand ready to provide free legal assistance to VW workers if VW and the UAW enter into another organizing deal or if UAW bosses resort to unlawful tactics at the plant again," Mix said in a statement.

The employees alleged in the suit that in a pre-election agreement, VW gave the union access to names and facilities at the Chattanooga plant in exchange for the UAW holding down costs if it won the organizing vote at the factory.

VW and the UAW denied the charges and sought a dismissal of the lawsuit, saying the election agreement was not illegal.

UAW attorneys said the agreement didn't violate federal labor law because "courts and the National Labor Relations Board have long upheld and enforced labor-management agreements including the very type of agreement terms ... challenged here."

The U.S. Department of Justice said this week in a legal brief that neither Volkswagen nor the UAW violated federal law in their election agreement prior to the vote.

Volkswagen employee Mike Jarvis, one of the parties in the suit, said that when the action was filed in March, the workers were worried the union was "going to be forced on us." Last month, the UAW withdrew its NLRB appeal for a revote.

"Now that the vote has been certified, we want to move on, work with our fellow VW team members, and focus on building our award-winning cars," he said.

The employees in the suit said the company tried to help the union achieve representation at the plant and to limit what the UAW could bargain over in any subsequent contract talks. The suit said the UAW agreed "to make concessions" to VW under a works council labor board that the automaker wanted to set up if employees approved the union.

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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