UAW, rival labor group differ on appeal of election at Chattanooga VW plant

The Chattanooga Volkswagen assembly plant, located in the Enterprise South industrial park, is photographed on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn.
photo The UAW logo is displayed on the podium at a news conference held Thursday, July 10, 2014, at the IBEW Local 175 in Chattanooga, Tenn., to announce the formation of a new local United Auto Workers' union in Chattanooga for Volkswagen workers.

The American Council of Employees at Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant is supporting the automaker's federal appeal of last year's election in which a small group of employees agreed to align with the United Auto Workers.

But the UAW is alleging in papers filed with the National Labor Relations Board that VW has failed to consult with the newly elected maintenance workers union on a range of issues from vending machine prices to out-of-pocket prescription drug costs. The UAW already has filed an unfair labor practice against the automaker, saying it's not bargaining with the maintenance workers.

ACE, a labor group opposed to the UAW, said in a filing that it represents about 265 full-time production workers at the plant, including a number of maintenance employees. Upholding the election will alter VW's "one team" approach at the plant, according to ACE.

"For maintenance team members, it will require that those individuals be severed from the remainder of those represented by ACE," Chattanooga attorney Maury Nicely said in the filing.

He called upon the NLRB to reverse the certification of the election results, terming the unionized group at the plant "an arbitrary, fractured sub-unit."

Meanwhile, the UAW alleged that a black employee was fired for taking photographs to support a claim of workplace discrimination.

"When this African-American worker showed the picture to management in support of his complaint of such race discrimination, he was fired for violation of VW's no photograph rule," the UAW filing said.

Volkswagen spokesman Scott Wilson declined to discuss any specific employee's dismissal but emphasized that the Chattanooga plant has "a strong culture of inclusion." Volkswagen makes no exceptions to requirements that workers wear company-issued clothing on the factory floor, Wilson said.

The UAW won a December election of the maintenance workers by a 108-44 vote. But the company has declined to enter into contract negotiations and has appealed to the NLRB.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318.