The National Right to Work Foundation, a Washington-based anti-union group, has filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of eight workers who allege they were misled by officials of the United Auto Workers union who are trying to organize Volkswagen's Chattanooga assembly site.
The complaints filed by NRWF underscore the growing tension surrounding an push by the UAW to unionize the plant. UAW is currently holding discussions with VW executives over establishing a German-style works council at Chattanooga.
UAW claims that a majority of the site’s 2,700 workers have signed union cards expressing interest in the union, one of the first steps required to establish a collective bargaining unit.
The eight workers claimed that they were told that signing such a card was a sign of support for a secret-ballot election, not support for the UAW. They argue that union officials told workers who wanted to revoke their signed cards that they would have to visit a union office to do so.
NRFW president Mark Mix said in a statement that the case at Chattanooga underscores how card check unionization schemes make it “easy to check in, but impossible to check out.” Chip Harrell, regional director at the NLRB office in Atlanta, confirmed the filing of the charges.
Representing workers at the Chattanooga plant would be a big win for the UAW, which has been logging a decline in memberships and has been struggling to organize plants owned by foreign carmakers. UAW President Bob King wants VW to recognize the union as its bargaining partner through card checks, but local politicians and businessmen are urging VW not to do so.