December 22, 2015 / 3:47 PM / 2 years ago

UAW says Volkswagen refuses collective bargaining for Tennessee workers

The Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Tami Chappell

DETROIT (Reuters) - The United Auto Workers union has filed charges against Volkswagen AG, claiming the company is refusing to enter into collective bargaining for a portion of workers at its Chattanooga, Tennessee, factory, the union said on Tuesday.

The charges were filed with the National Labor Relations Board on Monday.

On Dec. 4, more than 70 percent of the 161 skilled trades workers at the VW plant voted to join the UAW. There are about 1,450 auto assembly workers at the plant.

The outcome was seen as important for the union because it was the first time workers at an auto assembly plant in the southern U.S. owned by a foreign automaker voted to join the UAW.

VW fought against the election and filed with the NLRB to try to stop it. The company said it does not want a portion of its auto assembly workers to be represented while others are not.

“Volkswagen has refused to come to the bargaining table in violation of federal law,” said Gary Casteel, UAW secretary-treasurer. “By refusing to engage in collective bargaining after a successful election, Volkswagen is not only doing a disservice to its employees but now is thumbing its nose at the federal government as well.”

VW officials were not available for comment on Tuesday.

The UAW lost a close election of all of the plant’s hourly auto assembly workers in February 2014. The union said the result was tainted by outside interference from anti-union lobbying groups and politicians.

Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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