UAW challenges result of Tennessee VW plant union vote

Fri Feb 21, 2014 6:25pm EST
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By Kevin Drawbaugh

(Reuters) - The United Auto Workers filed an appeal with the U.S. government on Friday, asking it to set aside the results of an election last week in which workers at a Tennessee Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) plant voted not to join the union.

Citing what it called "interference by politicians and outside special interest groups," the UAW said the U.S. National Labor Relations Board would investigate the election and decide if there are grounds to scrap it and hold a new one.

The move by the union escalates a battle with anti-union Republicans that has intensified as the UAW, its membership rolls in decline, has tried hard to organize workers at foreign-owned, non-union auto plants across the American South.

Labor lawyers and academics said last week it would be difficult for the union to make a case for setting aside the election. They said labor law does not limit what can be said in a union election campaign by politicians, as long as they are stating their own views and not doing the bidding of management.

The law does strictly limit the statements that can be made by management and the union itself, they said.

An NLRB spokesman said the UAW will have seven days to provide evidence. An NLRB regional director will investigate and a hearing will likely follow. Chattanooga falls under the purview of the board's regional director in Atlanta.

The UAW said in a statement that its appeal details "a coordinated and widely publicized coercive campaign conducted by politicians and outside organizations to deprive Volkswagen workers of their federally protected right to join a union."

The election loss at the plant in Chattanooga was a blow to the UAW, which spent two years trying to convince the workers there to unionize, but still lost, even with the support of VW.   Continued...

A general view of the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga,Tennessee February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Christopher Aluka Berry