WASHINGTON -- Volkswagen plans to appeal a decision to let a small group of skilled-trades workers hold a union vote at its plant in Chattanooga.
The election to decide whether about 165 skilled-trades workers at the plant will join the UAW was scheduled for Thursday and Friday this week after the National Labor Relations board approved the UAW’s petition for the election on Nov. 18. A VW spokesman said that the election will proceed as planned and the appeal process will occur after the vote.
If successful, the election would put the eligible skilled-trades workers, who maintain plant equipment and machinery, on a path toward collective bargaining rights.
“The decision to appeal is based on Volkswagen Chattanooga’s consistent position that the Chattanooga workforce is one integrated team and our One Team concept is a critical component of our success,” a VW spokesman said in a statement.
“While we continue to respect our employees’ right to decide on representation, we believe that any union election for the Chattanooga plant should provide all hourly team members -- production and maintenance -- with the opportunity to participate.”
Currently, worker representation by the UAW is limited to regular meetings with company executives under the plant’s Community Organization Engagement Policy. The UAW formed a local chapter, Local 42, last year to represent its members who work at the plant.
A UAW rival group, the American Council of Employees, also meets with VW personnel under the policy, but less frequently due to its smaller membership.
In a statement, UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel said the union was “disappointed that Volkswagen continues to argue against employees’ rights that clearly are protected under federal law,” and called on the company to drop the appeal.
Casteel said employees have grown “increasingly impatient” since VW has failed to honor its spring 2014 “commitment” to recognize the UAW as the bargaining agent of its members who work at the Chattanooga plant.
“Chattanooga is the company’s only plant in the world that does not have a seat on the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, and that needs to change if the plant is going to play a meaningful role in Volkswagen’s comeback story,” Casteel said in his statement.