Union Will Keep Fighting To Organize Volkswagen Workers

CREDIT: AP/Erik Schelzig

UAW President Bob King

Despite dropping the objections about outside interference it filed with the National Labor Relations Board over a failed vote to unionize a Chattanooga, Tennessee Volkswagen plant, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union says it will keep fighting to organize those workers.

“We’re keeping a full organizing effort going on in Chattanooga,” UAW President Bob King told ThinkProgress. “We’re not quitting at all, we’re very committed.” He noted that a majority of workers had been in favor of joining the union months before the election, despite the vote failing 712 against to 626 in favor in February. “We’re going to continue to rebuild the majority in Chattanooga, then look at what options are there for us at that point,” he said.

Volkswagen has also said that it is still committed to creating a works council, or formal structure for management and workers to collaborate, in the Tennessee plant, but American labor law makes it difficult to do so if workers aren’t unionized. “We still strongly believe in a works council,” King said, “and we know that we have to build a majority there to be able to set up a real German-style works council.”

The union had filed an appeal of the election with the NLRB alleging illegal interference from the state’s political leaders, who made comments about the election and may also have tied state incentives to the outcome. The union thinks that “the best leverage” on the elected officials is to bring public attention to the issue, King said. He also pointed to a public inquiry started by Congressmen George Miller (D) and John Tierney (D).