April 16, 2016
By John Quinn, LaborPress USA
Chattanooga, Tennessee — Working men and women at Volkswagen won an important victory following an order by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) supporting efforts among skilled-trades employees to secure meaningful employee representation.
A three-member NLRB panel denied Volkswagen’s request for the agency to review a December 2015 election in which skilled-trades employees in Chattanooga voted overwhelmingly to designate UAW Local 42 as their representative for the purpose of collective bargaining. This order upholds the results of the election, which the NLRB supervised.
Federal law provides for units within a workforce to seek recognition for achieving collective bargaining. In its order, the NLRB noted that employees in the skilled-trades unit at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant are “readily identifiable as a group” and that Volkswagen failed to demonstrate otherwise.
Local union members applauded the order. “The NLRB supervised a fair election at the plant and then promptly certified the results,” said Mike Cantrell, president of UAW Local 42. “We’re glad to see the decision upheld and we look forward to meeting Volkswagen at the collective bargaining table in the near future.”
Collective bargaining is a common practice between employees and employers in the U.S. The NLRB describes collective bargaining as an effort between an employer and employees to “bargain in good faith about wages, hours, vacation time, insurance, safety practices and other subjects.”
Gary Casteel, secretary-treasurer of the UAW and director of the International union’s Transnational Department, said Volkswagen’s refusal to come to the bargaining table since the December election has been a violation of the National Labor Relations Act.
“With today’s order, the NLRB has clearly stated that it views the skilled-trades election in Chattanooga as a legal and appropriate step toward meaningful employee representation,” Casteel said. “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.”