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With Volkswagen's Apparent Blessings, Labor Pins Hopes for Southern Strategy on Vote at Tennessee Plant

February 7, 2014
Next week, employees at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will vote in an NLRB-conducted election whether to be represented by the United Auto Workers, with the company maintaining a neutral position on the question while reportedly denying requests from anti-union employees to campaign against the union in the plant.  The election is the result of demands by union members of the German company's Board that its American operations have European-style works councils before any further expansion of their operations.  The company has been advised by its attorneys that establishing a works council without the participation of an independent union would result in an illegal "company union" under American labor law.  The UAW is being strongly opposed by many of the plant's employees, as well as state and local politicians, who are concerned it could drive many non-union suppliers away from the area.  A union victory would be viewed as a significant precedent for the unionization of other foreign-owned automotive operations in the generally non-union American South.  The voting will take place February 12-14.  Even though the company is allowing significant union access to the plant to campaign, it is reportedly denying similar campaigning activities to the anti-union employees.  If the union prevails, it will be difficult for those employees to seek to overturn the results because NLRB procedures generally only allow an employer to file objections.
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