Will VW Challenge UAW’s Historic Union Win in Chattanooga?

I’m sure you remember last year’s coverage of the UAW’s attempt at organizing all workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, facility. Had VW workers voted to unionize, it would have been the first union in a southern automaker and perhaps open the door for the UAW to organize the foreign manufacturers in the South the way they have a lock on the Big Three American car companies in Detroit. But, the union withdrew the election petition before the employees had a chance to vote.

Fast forward to early December and the UAW again sought to organize VW’s Chattanooga employees, but only the skilled trades workers this time. VW said it would be amenable to a vote of all maintenance and production workers, but opposed the vote of just skilled trades workers.

Under newish Board law, a subset of workers within a larger group can vote on union representation without seeking input from other employees if the larger unit does not “share an overwhelming community of interest with those in the petitioned for unit.” This law basically allows unions to decide which employees to group together for a union vote since the burden of proving “overwhelming” is very high. And, in VW’s case, the union chose just the skilled trades workers. The UAW won the election, so we now wait to see if VW challenges the results.

Matt Austin is a lawyer based in the Columbus, Ohio office of Roetzel & Andress, LPA who limits his practice to representing employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 723-2010 or email him at maustin@ralaw.com.

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