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Labor Board Declines Volkswagen Challenge To TN Union Vote

Volkswagen had hoped to collectively bargain with all 1,400 hourly workers at the plant.

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The first United Auto Workers chapter at a foreign-owned plant in the American South won a victory this week after a federal panel declined to review its certification vote.

The National Labor Relations Board voted 2-1 against taking up an appeal by Volkswagen, which opposed the December vote by 162 skilled-trades workers at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Volkswagen instead hoped to collectively bargain with all 1,400 hourly workers at the plant, but the NLRB decision said that the election met its standards and that the appeal raised "no substantial issues warranting review."

The Chattanooga workforce narrowly rejected a UAW certification vote in 2014, but the union continued its decades-long campaign for a foothold in the South — home to low unionization rates and right-to-work standards.

In December, the skilled-trades workers, who maintain the machines and robots at the factory, voted 108-44 to be represented by UAW Local 42.

(AP Photo)(AP Photo)

VW, meanwhile, originally sought a works council arrangement common in Germany — but impossible under U.S. labor law — before seeking a vote of the entire Chattanooga workforce.

The company said that it is reviewing the NLRB decision, and a local attorney told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that VW could continue to oppose the vote under a different NLRB petition and, potentially, in federal appeals court.

The UAW previously filed a complaint with the board after VW declined to bargain while its challenge was pending.

The union lauded Wednesday's decision and called on the automaker to come to the negotiating table.

"We hope Volkswagen’s new management team will accept the government’s decision and refocus on the core values that made it a successful brand — environmental sustainability and meaningful employee representation," UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel said in a statement.

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