CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The UAW announced today it is withdrawing objections filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regarding February’s vote at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, effectively terminating the NLRB review process.
UAW President Bob King said the decision was made in the best interests of Volkswagen employees, the automaker, and economic development in Chattanooga. King said the UAW based its decision on the belief that the NLRB’s historically dysfunctional and complex process potentially could drag on for months or even years. Additionally, the UAW cited refusals by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker to participate in a transparent legal discovery process, which undermines public trust and confidence.
“The unprecedented political interference by Gov. Haslam, Sen. Corker and others was a distraction for Volkswagen employees and a detour from achieving Tennessee’s economic priorities,” King said. “The UAW is ready to put February’s tainted election in the rearview mirror and instead focus on advocating for new jobs and economic investment in Chattanooga.”
UAW Region 8 Director Gary Casteel, who directs the union’s Southern region, echoed that the UAW’s focus is advocating for Volkswagen to create more jobs in Tennessee by adding a new SUV line at the Chattanooga plant. The Haslam administration in August offered nearly $300 million in incentives to bring the new SUV to Chattanooga, but attempted to make the investment contingent on whether the Chattanooga plant is organized. The Haslam administration’s contingency is contrary to Volkswagen’s successful business model, which is premised on worker representation.
“The UAW wants to help create quality jobs and build world-class products for American consumers,” Casteel said. “With this in mind, we urge Gov. Haslam to immediately extend the incentives that previously were offered to Volkswagen for this new SUV line, and do so unconditionally.”
King said the UAW has accomplished a major goal with its election objections. “The UAW’s objections informed the public about the unprecedented interference by anti-labor politicians and third parties who want to prevent workers from exercising their democratic right to choose union representation,” he said.
King also said that outdated federal laws governing the NLRB never contemplated the level of extreme intimidation and interference that occurred in Chattanooga. Even if the NLRB ordered a new election — the board’s only available remedy under current law — nothing would stop politicians and anti-union organizations from again interfering.
Looking ahead, the UAW believes the congressional inquiry into the Haslam administration’s incentives threat to Volkswagen provides the best opportunity for additional scrutiny. The UAW will ask Congress to examine the use of federal funds in the state’s incentives threat, in order to protect Tennessee jobs and workers in the future.
“Frankly, Congress is a more effective venue for publicly examining the now well-documented threat,” King said. “We commend Congressmen George Miller and John Tierney for their leadership on this matter, and look forward to seeing the results of their inquiry.”
United Automobile Workers (UAW) has more than 390,000 members and more than 750 local unions across America. Since its founding in 1935, the UAW has developed partnerships with employers and supported industry-leading wages and benefits for its members. (FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Michele Martin, firstname.lastname@example.org, (313) 926-5291 or (313) 510-4269, or visit www.uaw.org/uawvw)
Following is a statement by the Communications Workers of America on the UAW withdrawing objections to the Volkswagen Election:
Washington, D.C. — The Communications Workers of America (CWA) stands with the United Auto Workers (UAW) as that union drops its objections to the NLRB representation election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Now the focus will shift to the congressional investigation into the third party anti-union campaign by elected officials, Grover Norquist and other outside groups. Reps. George Miller (D-CA) and John Tierney (D-MA), the ranking Democrats on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions subcommittee, are investigating the interference and the shortcomings of our outdated federal labor laws.
In our increasingly globalized world, large foreign multinational corporations are investing in facilities in the U.S. Some, like Volkswagen, have been greeted by hostile outside campaigns to undermine workers’ right to collective bargaining, usually with cooperation by US management. In many cases US management embraces anti-union tactics they shun at home, where unions often have recognition and respect. This case was unique in that VW management in Germany and at least officially in the US adopted extensive neutrality provisions which only inflamed outside agitators like Norquist even more. In a similar case, CWA and the large German services union ver.di have been supporting T-Mobile employees’ struggle to organize for more than 10 years. Unfortunately the principal owner Deutsche Telekom and US management are anything but neutral.
For all of us the issue remains: What are the rights of employees in a global economy? Will the U.S. continue to operate at the low end on workers’ rights, accepting the fantasy land of Tennessee elected officials like Governor Haslam and U.S. Senator Corker that markets alone provide a fair outcome? Or will we build a movement and a consensus that Corker, Haslam and Norquist are way out of bounds and that if we don’t stop them, there will continue to be growing inequality and a falling living standard for most of us in the U.S.?