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In Historic Vote, Volkswagen Chattanooga Employees Choose United Auto Workers Representation



  The United Auto Workers union has won a representation vote at the Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga.  During a two-day voting period, 108 maintenance workers at the plant voted in favor of the UAW.  The union will represent maintenance workers as a small, separate unit, distinct from other plant employees.  It’s a partial victory compared to whatthe UAW sought in 2014, when it tried to organize the majority of the plant’s hourly employees.  But Ray Curry, director of UAW Region 8, says it’s a milestone.

"Not only for the community of Chattanooga," Curry says.  "It’s a historic moment for the UAW and particularly the Southern region, for UAW Region 8, and the UAW International."

It's the first time the union has won a representation election at a foreign-owned auto plant in the South.

“A key objective for our local union always has been moving toward collective bargaining for the purpose of reaching a multi-year contract between Volkswagen and employees in Chattanooga,” says Mike Cantrell, president of United Auto Workers Local 42 in Chattanooga. “We have said from the beginning of Local 42 that there are multiple paths to reach collective bargaining. We believe these paths will give all of us a voice at Volkswagen in due time.”

Cantrell also says the timing of this election is unrelated to the diesel emissions scandal that is costing Volkswagen billions and is causing the company to re-think future investments (although the automaker does say the planned expansion in Chattanooga is safe.)

Volkswagen, which had opposed the election because it included only a small percent of the plant's workforce, is appealing the National Labor Relations Board decision that made the election possible.

From a Volkswagen press release:

A total of 152 votes were cast, which is 94 percent of the employees eligible to vote in the election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on December 3rd and 4th. 108 votes were “Yes” for representation by the UAW (71 percent of votes cast) and 44 votes were “No” against representation by the UAW (29 percent of votes cast). Therefore, the UAW has been elected as the bargaining representative by a majority of maintenance employees, pending certification of the election by the NLRB. As has always been the case, Volkswagen respects the right of our employees to decide the question of union representation. Nevertheless, we believe that a union of only maintenance employees fractures our workforce and does not take into account the overwhelming community of interest shared between our maintenance and production employees. Therefore, as we indicated prior to the election, we are appealing to the NLRB to reconsider the decision to separate Volkswagen maintenance and production workers and to allow them to vote as one group on the matter of union representation. Whatever the outcome of our appeal, Volkswagen’s commitment to Tennessee remains unchanged. Our partnership with Tennessee is a long-term investment and it is vital to the future of Volkswagen in America.

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