United Auto Workers Can Organize VW Workers in Tenn., National Board Says

DETROIT (Detroit Free Press/TNS) -

The National Labor Relations Board said a group of about 160 maintenance workers at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., has the right to form a union, delivering a key victory to the United Auto Worker union’s multiyear effort to organize the plant.

An NLRB panel voted 2-1 in the UAW’s favor in an order released Wednesday, ruling against Volkswagen’s argument that the union must organize all of the plant’s workers. The plant has a total hourly workforce of about 1,400.

“With today’s order, the NLRB has clearly stated that it views the skilled-trades election in Chattanooga as a legal and appropriate step toward meaningful employee representation,” UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel said in a statement. “We hope Volkswagen’s new management team will accept the government’s decision.”

The UAW has been trying to organize workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant for several years and has made organizing automotive plants in the South one of its highest priorities. Volkswagen has refused to bargain with the UAW since December, when a majority of Volkswagen maintenance workers voted in favor of UAW representation.

“The employer failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that the additional employees it seeks to include share an ‘overwhelming community of interest’ with the petitioned-for unit,” the NLRB said in its order. “The employees in the petitioned for-unit are readily identifiable as a group.”

Volkswagen in a statement Wednesday said it is said it received the NLRB’s ruling on Wednesday.

“We are reviewing the decision and evaluating our options,” the automaker said in a statement.