National Labor Relations Board puts union election on hold at Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant

The Volkswagen logo is seen on an Atlas at Village Volkswagen on Thursday, May 18, 2017, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Tennessee gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd purchased the first Chattanooga-made Atlas. / Staff photo by Doug Strickland

The National Labor Relations Board on Friday put on hold a case involving a potential new union election at Volkswagen's Chattanooga production plant.

The NLRB, in a short decision, granted Volkswagen's request for a stay, though it's unknown how long the case will be put on hold.

"The Employer's request to stay all proceedings is granted," said the NLRB ruling.

The decision by the board was 2 to 1 as one member dissented, saying VW did not establish that such extraordinary relief should be granted.

Last month, a Volkswagen lawyer sought to strike down the United Auto Workers' request for a new union election at the Chattanooga plant.

"Volkswagen is not opposed to union elections as its history indicates," said VW attorney Arthur Carter in a legal brief to the NLRB. "It does believe, however, that unions and governmental agencies should follow proper legal procedures in conducting elections."

Brian Rothenberg of the UAW International said Friday that it isn't immediately clear how long the NLRB ruling would delay a vote, which the union had requested to have this week after filing a petition for union certification last month.

Rothenberg workers "deserved to be treated the same way as any worker and have the right to vote and the same workplace bargaining rights as any VW worker in the world."

Dan Gilmore, a Chattanooga labor law attorney who teaches at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, said it appears that the NLRB will first decide unfair labor practice charges that the UAW had earlier leveled against the automaker.

He said he doesn't expect that anything will happen soon related to a potential new union vote at the VW plant.

In mid-April, some VW Chattanooga workers filed a petition for a new election at the plant to align maintenance and production employees with the UAW.

In February 2014, the union had lost an election involving production and skilled maintenance workers by a margin of 712 to 626.

But in a 2015 vote of just maintenance workers, who keep up and repair the robots and other equipment in the plant, the union prevailed by 108 to 44.

VW has refused to bargain with the smaller unit, saying it wanted a vote of all the production and maintenance workers, and the case has been tied up in court and before the NLRB.

Later last month, the unionized unit of maintenance workers asked the NLRB to disclaim the second vote to clear the way for the new election, which was originally sought for late April.

But VW objected, saying there are issues still pending before the NLRB on which the panel hasn't ruled related to the smaller unit.

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