It what seems to be almost a yearly occurrence, workers as Volkswagen AG’s plant in in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have filed a petition for a union vote at the plant.
A call for a vote has happened three times in five years at the facility and the UAW does represent some skilled trades at the plant. UAW Local 42 President Steven Cochran told the Chattanooga Times Free Press the election petition was filed Tuesday with the National Labor Relations Board due to “pressure from the workers.”
The petition revealed at least 30% of 1,709 employees that make up the proposed election unit have turned in cards for representation. It asks for an election on April 29 and 30. Volkswagen plant officials say they “remain neutral on this topic,” and that the petition is being reviewed.
“Why are Chattanooga workers treated differently?” Cochran said in a statement. “Why are we in Chattanooga not treated like other VW employees around the world? Why in Chattanooga do we have to make suggestions, not sit down and bargain like every other VW plant?”
(Volkswagen building electric vehicles at Chattanooga plant. Click Here for the story.)
The UAW took its first stab at organizing the plant in 2014, losing a close and highly contentious vote, 712-626. Then-UAW President Bob King claimed the process was interfered with by outside forces, particularly Tennessee Republican politicians.
“To lose by such a close margin is very, very difficult,” King said at the time. “We’re also outraged by the outside interference in this election.”
It was one of several attempts to organize Southeastern U.S. auto plants that have failed, most recently the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, voted against UAW representation, despite a full-court press by the UAW.
(Click Here for more about VW’s 10-year plan to comeback.)
Now the UAW is facing perhaps an even more difficult problem to overcome: corruption. The ongoing UAW-FCA training fund scandal has seen several union leaders charged with crimes that are essentially seen as taking money away from the union’s rank-and-file.
The result has been some angry responses from those members as national union leaders scramble to make changes to the oversight of funds and try to convince membership their actions will have the desired effect.
So far, the local leadership has focused its push on what other automotive employees have that they don’t: an organization designated to represent their interests while steering away from the ongoing run of negative publicity.
(VW’s Keogh confirms plans for new U.S. plant for electric vehicle. Click Here for the story.)
“This isn’t about politicians. It’s not about outsiders. It’s about Chattanooga workers,” Cochran added. “We deserve the same rights as Spring Hill workers and every other VW worker in the world.