UAW-VW Update

The other day I was wondering whatever happened with the UAW’s appeal of the Volkswagen union vote in Tennessee. It happened a couple weeks ago so at least some of you probably heard, but as it turns out there has been some movement on this as the UAW dropped its complaint with the National Labor Review Board:

[T]he union issued a statement Monday saying it was dropping its appeal because fighting the election through the NLRB could have dragged on for years.
“The UAW is ready to put February’s tainted election in the rear-view mirror,” said UAW President Bob King in a statement.

The union said even if the NLRB ordered a new election — the board’s only available remedy under current law — nothing would stop politicians and anti-union organizations from again interfering.

But some experts had suggested that the union stood little chance of winning a new vote, even if the NRLB ruled in its favor.
“Most people thought they’d win the first time around,” said Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University. “I think the chances of winning a second vote will be more difficult than winning the first vote.”

They can try a new vote in a year. Gabe Nelson adds some background, suggesting that this may be a part of a longer-term strategy:

“It was going to be problematic for Volkswagen if the UAW continued with this appeal,” said Erik Loomis, a labor historian at the University of Rhode Island who has written about the UAW campaign in Chattanooga. “The UAW wants to be seen as Volkswagen’s friend, and Bob King seems to think that’s going to be the ticket to ultimately organize the plant.”

Now that the appeal has been withdrawn, the onus for securing the crossover shifts to Tennessee. If the production order goes to Mexico instead of Chattanooga, state politicians, not the UAW, would be in line for the blame.

“Tactically, it was a good move for them to make in this situation,” said Maury Nicely, a Chattanooga lawyer who argued against the UAW’s appeal for the anti-union group Southern Momentum.

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2 thoughts on “UAW-VW Update

  1. From the Detroit Free Press

    The union will look into other options to get recognized, said Gary Casteel, the UAW’s district director. “There are still options other than elections and card checks, and we can prove we had a majority” of workers favoring UAW representation before to the election,” Casteel said.

    Casteel said VW could agree to a private election and choose to accept the UAW on its own.

    “The board doesn’t have to certify anything,” he said. “Volkswagen could give us voluntary recognition. There is no adversarial relationship between the UAW and Volkswagen, and we’re still having discussions.”

    Others have suggested VW could explore a nonexclusive union comprised of those who voted in favor of organizing. Those people could form the basis of a works council that consists of white- and blue-collar workers. The works council could make decisions on all issues outside wages and benefits, which must be negotiated by a union.

    Art Wheaton, associate with the Worker Institute at Cornell University, said VW could end the drama instantly by certifying the union and he cannot understand the political opposition. “A politician in Germany would be burned at the stake if they did that.”

    Wheaton also said he thinks VW may be positioning itself to reach an agreement with a different union than the UAW.

    I am interested to see if UAW come forward with recommendations for legislative change; I think there’s a hole big enough to drive a VW through in the law and what ‘union’ means right now. Work Councils sound so 1940’s, but cooperative union/management structures would be a good thing.

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