BREAKING: Trump NLRB Cancels UAW Vote at Volkswagen in Chattanooga

Community members rally on behalf of Volkswagen workers seeking to unionize in Chattanooga (Chattanooga Labor Council)

Today, the Trump-appointed National Labor Relations Board blocked the request for workers at Volkswagen to hold a union election.

The NLRB ruled that since 160 maintenance workers at the plant voted to unionize in 2015, a new union election can’t be held until a decertification petition already submitted by the UAW is processed.

Now, the UAW must withdraw their petition, get workers at the plant to resign a union petition, and then refile; delaying the union election by several months and giving the employer time to run a campaign to intimidate workers against joining the union.

The move strikes many as hypocritical since Volkswagen refused to recognize the union and bargain with that smaller union; insisting that they would only bargain with a union that represented all 2,000 maintenance and production workers at the plant. For nearly three years, Volkswagen has argued that the Obama era rules that allowed only maintenance workers to vote were a violation of the National Labor Relations Act.

The decision was immediately blasted by the sole Democrat on the NLRB, Lauren McFerran.

“Today’s decision defies logic and common sense, and will needlessly delay the vote these workers deserve,” said McFerran in a statement. “After years of litigation, the Union conceded to the Employer’s demands by petitioning for the unit the Employer wanted all along.  Now the Employer seeks to block the new petition and inexplicably prevails by invoking an inapplicable doctrine intended to protect unions”.

“It is disappointing that the Board majority sanctions this obvious gamesmanship.  “Heads, the employer wins; tails, the union loses” cannot be the Board’s new motto”. said the NLRB’s McFerran.

It’s unclear when the next union election will be scheduled. However, already, the delay appears to be backfiring against Volkswagen both on the shop floor and in the local community.

Yesterday, a rally of 17 different local unions was held in Chattanooga to rally the community behind the cause of workers seeking a vote.

“This is about Chattanooga workers at Volkswagen Chattanooga taking care of our issues that’s all it’s about. Let us vote. Let us handle our issues” 7-year Volkswagen employee Billy Quig told the assembled crowd.

(For more on the rally, see our story “Unprecedented Rally for VW Workers in Chattanooga Buoys Support for UAW”)

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About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is the founder of Payday Report and also covers labor and immigration for The Guardian. In 2015, he was illegally fired for union organizing as Politico’s senior labor reporter and used his $70,000 NLRB settlement to start Payday. The son of United Electrical Workers (UE) Director of Organization Gene Elk, he lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and has dinner with his folks regularly. He can be reached at Melk@PaydayReport.com A Sidney Award winner and proud graduate of Woodland Hills, Elk lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh.

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