This story was updated Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at 6:09 p.m. with more information.
“VW has been saying the UAW hasn't done this correctly. The UAW tried to blame VW. This is a vindication of Volkswagen. ”
The United Auto Workers on Wednesday filed a new petition for a union vote at Chattanooga's Volkswagen plant after the National Labor Relations Board dismissed an earlier request.
Brian Rothenberg of UAW International said the NLRB directed the board's Atlanta office to dismiss the original election petition filed on April 9.
But, he said, the board indicated that the UAW could immediately file a new petition and it did so seeking a vote among VW Chattanooga production and maintenance workers.
The new petition requests a vote on June 12, 13 and 14.
Volkswagen said in a statement that it will work with the NLRB to schedule an election.
"We respect our colleagues' right to decide on representation," said the automaker. "The company has always maintained that a proper vote should include production and maintenance employees, and that legal issues surrounding the maintenance-only unit should have been resolved before the union filed a petition to represent the entire production and maintenance group."
Dan Gilmore, who teaches labor law at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, said it appears as if the hold-ups to an election now no longer exist.
But, he added, while VW says it's neutral, it's not acting as the company did in 2014 when it and the UAW had an agreement for that union election.
"One thing is clear, this is not 2014," Gilmore said.
The UAW lost the 2014 vote by a margin of 712 to 626. In 2015, a smaller group of maintenance workers won a union vote at the plant by 108-44.
“Volkswagen has continued to use legal games to aggressively deny its workers the right to vote for years. ”
Last month after waiting more than three years for the courts and NLRB to decide on the validity of the union for the maintenance workers, the UAW disclaimed the 2015 election and sought NLRB action to revoke the unit so a new election of all maintenance and production workers could take place.
VW had claimed that there were issues pending before the NLRB related to the 2015 vote that must be decided before the board could entertain a new UAW petition.
On Wednesday, the NLRB granted in a split decision the request by Volkswagen to dismiss the original petition.
"The Employer's request for review of the Regional Director's Order Deferring Ruling on Motion to Dismiss Petition is granted as it raises substantial issues warranting review," said the NLRB in a split decision. "On review, we direct the Regional Director to dismiss the petition."
The UAW criticized the NLRB decision, but noted that it allowed Chattanooga workers to quickly file another petition though it created a delay in the process.
"Volkswagen has continued to use legal games to aggressively deny its workers the right to vote for years," said Rothenberg. "It's ridiculous and shows how broken the rights of workers are under our labor laws."
Maury Nicely, an attorney for the anti-UAW group Southern Momentum, said the decision by the NLRB vindicated VW's earlier stance.
"What we've been hearing for weeks is 'Let them vote. Why is VW standing in the way,'" he said. "VW has been saying the UAW hasn't done this correctly. The UAW tried to blame VW. This is a vindication of Volkswagen."
Nicely said that either the UAW "knew it wasn't supposed to do this and did, or it had no idea. It calls into question why anyone would want to be represented by them."
Volkswagen said that the NLRB agreed with the company's position, found that the petition was not filed properly, and ruled that "any delay is solely due to [the Union's] having filed its petition" prior to resolution of the maintenance-only unit issue.
"The NLRB's decision today will allow us to proceed in a way consistent with board law as well as our one-team approach. We have taken a neutral position on the issue and will continue to do so," the company said.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.