The National Labor Relations Board, in a vote along party lines, agreed to Volkswagen’s request to postpone an union election vote at the German automakers factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The United Auto Workers surprised VW last month by asking for a quick vote, among the 1,400 production workers in Chattanooga with the hope of minimizing the impact of anti-union campaigns, particularly by local political figures and outside anti-union groups.
The UAW won the right to represent Chattanooga’s 300 or so maintenance workers in 2016.
Volkswagen’s ability to engage in a broad anti-union campaign, similar to the one mounted by Nissan in Canton, Mississippi, is somewhat limited by the company’s governance structure, which leaves German union’s allied with the UAW considerable influence in company affairs.
(UAW secures third vote at VW’s Chattanooga plant. Click Here for the story.)
However, Volkswagen’s American lawyers, recruited from the ranks of anti-union law firms, did persuade the NLRB to postpone a vote indefinitely, frustrating the UAW.
Two Republican members of the NLRB, appointed by President Donald Trump, known for the their anti-union opinions, outvoted the lone Democrat on the board two to one to postpone the election, pending a final decision in a case involving the maintenance workers now represented by the union.
(Click Here for more about VW’s 10-year plan to comeback.)
VW’s lawyers argued that the UAW can only represent either all or none of the workers in Chattanooga rather than a so-called splinter union within a largely non-union workforce. However, settled precedent allowed so called splinter units to exist if the employees want representation, according to the UAW.
Materials obtained by Labor Notes, a union publication, indicate VW has engaged in what is described as a “scorched earth” anti-union tactics that are commonly deployed by U.S. employers, marking a sharp shift from the company’s claims of “neutrality” towards unions.
(To see more about Volkswagen building electric vehicles at Chattanooga plant, Click Here.)
The UAW faced similar opposition during the 2017 election at Nissan in Canton, Mississippi. Both Nissan and Volkswagen have relied on the services of notorious union-busting law firm Littler Mendelson. One of Trump’s two appointees to the Labor Board, William Emanuel, was a partner at the firm, though he did not rule on the Volkswagen case, Labor Notes reported.