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UAW to Appeal Volkswagen Plant Vote

UAW President, Bob KingThe United Automobile Workers union has decided to appeal the vote by workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga not to unionize. Filing with the National Labor Relations Board, the union claims outside interference did not allow for a free and just vote.  

In the leadup to the closely watched three-day ballot process, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker suggested that a pro-union vote would cause Volkswagen to move production of a new mid-size series SUV to Mexico.  A Reuters article detailed the coordinated effort between Corker, right-leaning groups, and local politicians to drum up fear in the days before the vote.  The UAW suggests that these factors lead to an environment where a fair vote could not take place.

In their appeal, the UAW claims, “The state officials’ threats were a constant presence in the minds of voters in the period immediately before and during the election, and were a blatant attempt to create an atmosphere of fear of harm to employees, their jobs and the viability of their employer … and cause employees to vote against UAW representation out of fear.”

The UAW will now have seven days to provide evidence to support its claim.  The NLRB regional director in Atlanta will then investigate the claim and call a hearing.  

UAW calls Corker’s actions, “shameful and undertaken with utter disregard for the rights of the citizens of Tennessee and surrounding states that work at Volkswagen,” adding, “The clear message of the campaign was that voting for the union would result in stagnation for the Chattanooga plant, with no new product, no job security, and withholding of state support for its expansion.”

In response to the appeal, Corker told Reuters he was “disappointed.”  The former Chattanooga Mayor added, “The UAW is only interested in its own survival and not the interests of the great employees at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen facility nor the company for which they work.”

The appeal comes days after VW labor representatives suggested that the hyper-conservative, anti-union atmosphere surrounding the vote could persuade the company to take future investments elsewhere.  The company is expected to invest $7 billion in North America over the next half of a decade.  

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