Today, the United Auto Workers Association announced that they will be moving forward and establishing a union at a Chattanooga Volkswagen plant. The Chattanooga plant, of course, already voted on whether or not to unionize back in February. In that vote, workers decided against unionization.
However, since that time, there have been continuous reports of the vote being influenced by political collusion (video below). The UAW even had a hearing with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) scheduled. No action was taken, though, because the UAW decided to pull its challenge away and take a different route.
So, instead of fading away and taking the defeat, the UAW is trying a different strategy. UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel said, “”We will be announcing a local, and we would fully expect that Volkswagen would deal with this local union if it represents a substantial portion of its employees. It’s dependent on the employees and what they want to do.”
For this new union, membership is voluntary, and there will be no union fees right away.
Casteel says, “Our administrative policy is that no dues are collected until 30 days after the first contract is approved. That won’t happen until there is a majority (of VW workers in the union) and we negotiate a contract.”
According to an official statement from Volkswagen, however, the company said that it is not currently in any “formal agreement” with the UAW.
The statement says, “Just like anywhere else in the world, the establishment of a local organization is a matter for the trade union concerned. There is no contract or other formal agreement with UAW on this matter.”
But this is not shocking; there is no need for Volkswagen to speculate on something that may or may not happen, depending on worker participation.
Not surprisingly, Tennessee politicians and anti-union activists that are adamant about keeping unions away from their state have re-iterated their displeasure with the UAW’s new plans.
Matt Patterson, the president of the Center for Worker Freedom (an anti-union organizations) says, “I’ve been beating that drum ever since the election,” Patterson said. “I can’t say I’m surprised. And I can’t really blame them, since it was such a close vote. But it’s really shocking that they can lose a vote and have a union anyway.”
“I don’t know of any case like this, but the whole situation in Chattanooga is bizarre and unique,” he said. “But they wouldn’t be doing this if they didn’t have the tacit approval of Volkswagen management. I never believed they would wait another year before they tried something else.”
But this is the type of opposition that has been facing the UAW all along, and they have always indicated that collusion and injustice were the major deterrents during the first go round.
That’s why UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel says, “We don’t feel it’s right to turn our backs on these workers.”