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United Auto Workers Vote Expected, Despite Opposition from Volkswagen

© Copyright Volkswagen of America, Inc.

  Maintenance employees at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen assembly plant will vote Thursday and Friday on whether to allow the United Auto Workers to represent them.  However, Volkswagen objects to the election because the maintenance employees comprise only a small part of the plant’s hourly workforce.

On Tuesday, Volkswagen announced the company is appealing the National Labor Relations Board ruling that has allowed the vote to happen. 

However, Volkswagen's appeal will not be completed until after Friday, and the vote is expected to go ahead as scheduled.

Volkswagen argues that the maintenance workers alone shouldn’t be unionized as a separate group from other plant workers.

“The decision to appeal is based on Volkswagen Chattanooga’s consistent position that the Chattanooga workforce is one integrated team and our One Team concept is a critical component of our success,” VW spokesperson said in an e-mail.

”While we continue to respect our employees’ right to decide on representation, we believe that any union election for the Chattanooga plant should provide all hourly team members—production and maintenance—with the opportunity to participate.”

The vote comes amid the so-called dieselgate scandal, in which VW admitted to rigging millions of cars to cheat emissions tests.  Sales of the Chattanooga-made Passat have declined as a result of the scandal.

Gary Casteel, Secretary-Treasurer of the UAW and Director of the International Union’s Transnational Department, is calling for Volkswagen to end its opposition to the election process.

“We’re calling on Volkswagen to drop this appeal and instead refocus on the core values that made it a successful brand, including environmental sustainability and employee representation,” Casteel said in a prepared statement.  “Chattanooga is the company’s only plant in the world that does not have a seat on the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, and that needs to change if the plant is going to play a meaningful role in Volkswagen's comeback story.”

[NOTE: Would a works council be legal in Chattanooga?  Hear more about that in this interview.]

It’s not clear how Volkswagen’s appeal will affect the voting process, because the appeal itself won’t be finished until after the voting period has concluded.

Jessica Kahanek, a spokeperson for the National Labor Relations Board, said in an e-mail that ballots ae often “impounded pending Board review in these types of situations.”

So the vote at the plant is expected to conclude Friday evening, but it may be a while before we know the results.

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