Chattanooga: Employers weigh appeal in labor case

Chattanooga: Employers weigh appeal in labor case

January 7th, 2009 by Mike Pare in Business

The National Labor Relations Board has dismissed a charge related to a contract dispute in which contractors claimed union groups were trying to drive up wages on the Volkswagen project.

Claude Harrell, assistant to the regional director for the NLRB's Atlanta office, said the employers could appeal the dismissal. He said the complaint was thrown out "on technical grounds."

Judy Gober, director of the Associated Mechanical Contractors of Chattanooga, said its officials have a meeting Thursday where the matter is expected to be discussed.

"I don't know if we'll appeal," she said.

WHAT'S AHEAD

A ceremonial groundbreaking for Volkswagens planned Chattanooga auto assembly plant has shifted to March.

Article:Chattanooga: Labor board nears end of VW site wage probe

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The NLRB began an investigation late in 2008 after the contractors group cited actions taken by the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Industry in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Gober said the national union sent word to the local union that a higher prevailing wage rate, $6 per hour more, should be sought on the VW assembly plant project.

She said it would cost VW millions of dollars more if the higher rate were charged as well as area jobs.

The plumbers and pipefitters group in Washington refused comment.

David Tolley, business manager for the United Association of Plumbers & Steamfitters Local No. 43, said he thinks there will be a settlement "real soon."

"There are still some ongoing things," he said, adding the higher wage rate is still under consideration.

VW is building a $1 billion auto assembly plant at Enterprise South industrial park to open in early 2011.

While a ceremonial groundbreaking for the plant has shifted from January to March to allow German officials to attend, a VW spokeswoman said the project is on schedule.

Progress continues on refitting office space in downtown Chattanooga for VW, and a "German school" promised by Hamilton County Schools administrators will open at Normal Park Museum Magnet this month, officials said.

About three weeks ago, VW named Michigan-based builder Walbridge as the general contractor for the plant's $30 million paint shop.