UAW has other options to unionize VW Chattanooga site

Article by Andrew Christian, on May 7, 2014

The United Auto Workers could still unionize Volkswagen AG's Chattanooga facility in Tennessee car plant even if it failed to win support of workers and has withdrawn its appeal of the vote, labor law experts told Reuters. The union will have to wait a year before it can launch another official secret ballot election at the VW site after its workers voted 712-626 on February 12-14 not to join the UAW.

Labor law experts, however, remarked that instead of waiting for a year for another election, the UAW could organize a smaller, specialized unit of workers, collaborate with VW for a private election, or gain recognition via card check.

While organizing some workers – especially those in the union-friendly body shop -- would be atypical for the UAW, it could bear fruit if the union could prove that most employees in the shop wanted to be represented.

Larry Drapkin, a labor attorney at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp in Los Angeles, remarked to Reuters that it wouldn’t be a surprise if the UAW tries to organize a smaller group of workers at VW. However, the UAW would still have to wait for a year before it could try a sub-unit election, according to NLRB rules.

The union’s defeat, which it claimed was due to influence of anti-union groups, was particularly hard as it sees VW’s Chattanooga site as vital in its campaign to organize workers in the US South, which is a traditionally anti-union region.

The UAW’s defeat was more stinging due to the fact the VW did not oppose its move. The UAW had appealed the results, claiming the vote was influenced by anti-union groups. It has withdrawn its appeal, saying that it could drag on for years.

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