IBEW Stands with UAW, Calls for New Volkswagen Vote


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The United Auto Workers is asking the National Labor Relations Board to set aside the results of the certification election at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn. assembly plant decided after a three-day vote Feb. 14.

Workers at the plant voted 712-626 against joining the UAW after a high-profile campaign that saw Tennessee politicians and private interest groups repeatedly threatening the future of the plant if workers voted to unionize.

The UAW’s objection, filed Feb. 21, says the threats were a “coordinated and widely-publicized coercive campaign [creating] a general atmosphere of fear or reprisal rendering a free election impossible.”
They are asking the NLRB to investigate the campaign and hold new elections.

“It is extraordinary interference in the private decision of workers to have a U.S. senator, a governor and leaders of the state Legislature threaten the company with the denial of economic incentives and workers with a loss of product,” said UAW President Bob King. “We’re committed to standing with the Volkswagen workers to ensure that their right to have a fair vote without coercion and interference is protected.”

The UAW’s 58-page filing cites many instances in the weeks leading up to the election when the most senior Tennessee politicians spoke out against a yes vote.

Days before the vote, State House Speaker Beth Harwell, a Nashville Republican, said that a UAW victory would put state incentives to Volkswagen “in jeopardy.” Two days before, Republican State Senate Speaker Pro Tem Bo Watson repeated that threat and called the UAW campaign “un-American.”

On the first day of voting, the state’s Republican U.S. senator, Bob Corker, announced that Volkswagen had “assured” him that their new SUV would only be produced at the plant if the vote went against the UAW. Volkswagen officials flatly rejected the senator’s claim, but the UAW says the damage had been done.

“The IBEW stands side-by-side with the UAW condemning the gross violation of public trust by the most powerful people in the state,” said IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill. “The NLRB must protect the right of American workers to decide for themselves how to get the wages and benefits they deserve and the respect they are due. They must not reward blackmail.”

The NLRB regional office in Atlanta will conduct a hearing before making a decision, but no schedule has yet been announced.

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