National Labor Relations Board certifies union vote at Chattanooga Volkswagen plant

A sign against unionization is in the grass in front of the Volkswagen plant Friday, June 14, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The National Labor Relations Board has certified the results of this month's union election at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant which saw the United Auto Workers fail to organize the factory.

"The tally of ballots shows that a collective-bargaining representative has not been selected," said board Regional Director John D. Doyle Jr.

The NLRB director said no timely objections to the vote were filed by the union or any other party.

In a three-day vote that ended June 14, VW production and maintenance workers voted 833 to 776 against aligning with the union. It was the second time in five years that the union tried to organize the full unit of blue-collar workers.

UAW International spokesman Brian Rothenberg said the vote count was likely the closest the union had ever come to fully organizing a foreign automaker in the South.

He said a swing of 29 votes by the production and maintenance workers would have changed the election results.

Some 51.8% of workers voted against the union, while 48.2% supported the UAW.

In a 2014 election, the margin was 53.2% against the union and 46.8% for the UAW.

Southern Momentum, a grassroots group of VW Chattanooga workers who opposed the UAW, said it "could not be more excited" about the union's defeat.

"We are happy for our families, for Volkswagen Chattanooga, and for our community," VW plant workers said in a statement from Southern Momentum. "What started as just a handful of us grew into a force of hard-working employees determined to better educate voters about the decision before them. And now all of us have spoken."

Anti-union workers had said they didn't need the Detroit-based UAW to speak for them when they already have a voice at the plant. They criticized the UAW for the ongoing federal corruption probe of the union in Michigan and for what they felt were unfair attacks by the UAW and its supporters against the automaker.

Pro-union VW workers had eyed the opportunity to bargain with the company over issues such as health and safety, working conditions, paid time off, and the bolstering of retirement plans.

After the vote, the UAW challenged the process of trying to form a union at the auto plant, calling on Congress to take a comprehensive look at the country's labor laws and NLRB rules.

"Clearly Volkswagen was able to delay bargaining with maintenance [workers] and ultimately this vote among all production and maintenance workers through legal games until they could undermine the vote," said Rothenberg.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

Volkswagen-UAW tensions