Citing what it called "interference by politicians and outside
special interest groups," the UAW said the U.S. National Labor
Relations Board would investigate the election and decide if there
are grounds to scrap it and hold a new one.
The move by the union escalates a battle with anti-union Republicans
that has intensified as the UAW, its membership rolls in decline,
has tried hard to organize workers at foreign-owned, non-union auto
plants across the American South.
Labor lawyers and academics said last week it would be difficult for
the union to make a case for setting aside the election. They said
labor law does not limit what can be said in a union election
campaign by politicians, as long as they are stating their own views
and not doing the bidding of management.
The law does strictly limit the statements that can be made by
management and the union itself, they said.
An NLRB spokesman said the UAW will have seven days to provide
evidence. An NLRB regional director will investigate and a hearing
will likely follow. Chattanooga falls under the purview of the
board's regional director in Atlanta.
The UAW said in a statement that its appeal details "a coordinated
and widely publicized coercive campaign conducted by politicians and
outside organizations to deprive Volkswagen workers of their
federally protected right to join a union."
The election loss at the plant in Chattanooga was a blow to the UAW,
which spent two years trying to convince the workers there to
unionize, but still lost, even with the support of VW.
A spokesman for VW in Chattanooga declined to comment.
Conservative Republicans spoke out against the UAW in the final days
of the election campaign. Among the most vocal critics of the union
was Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker, the former mayor of
The UAW said its appeal calls Corker's conduct "shameful and
undertaken with utter disregard for the rights of the citizens of
Tennessee and surrounding states that work at Volkswagen."
CORKER FIRES BACK
Corker said in a statement he was "disappointed" by the UAW appeal.
"The UAW is only interested in its own survival and not the
interests of the great employees at Chattanooga's Volkswagen
facility nor the company for which they work," he said.
Last week, as the three-day election campaign came to a head, Corker
said publicly that he had learned Volkswagen would bring an
additional production line for SUVs to the plant, creating more
jobs, if workers rejected the UAW.
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VW officials contradicted Corker at the time, saying a decision on
the additional line was unrelated to the election.
By inserting himself and his statements into the campaign, the
senator raised questions about whether he had contaminated the
voting. NLRB rules bar management during union election campaigns
from trying to frighten workers with threats of job cuts or layoffs
if they vote for a union.
Corker returned to the same theme on Friday, saying in his
statement, "I have to assume that today's action may slow down
Volkswagen's final discussions on the new SUV line."
President Barack Obama, who had the support of labor unions in both
his White House election campaigns, last week accused politicians in
Chattanooga of being "more concerned about German shareholders than
American workers," according to a Democratic aide who heard the
remarks at a closed meeting with lawmakers.
DEMOCRATS HAVE NLRB MAJORITY
Obama recently got a majority of Democrats appointed to the
five-member NLRB, which is historically more pro-union when
Democrats hold the White House, and less so when Republicans do.
UAW President Bob King blasted what he called "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."
Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander said in a statement:
"For 30 years, tens of thousands of new auto jobs have raised
Tennessee family incomes and our workers have decided in almost
every case that they are better off union-free. The UAW may not like
this, but that is the right of employees in a right-to-work state
(Additional reporting by Paul Lienert in
Detroit and David Lawder in Washington; editing by Howard Goller,
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