There’s no question losing the election to represent the workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn. plant was a blow to the United Auto Workers. The organization was hoping a victory in Chattanooga would lead to other organization efforts at foreign-owned auto plants throughout the Southeast, which are almost exclusively non-union. However, the UAW has not given up the fight, and is filing an appeal with the National Labor Relations Board to have the election results thrown out, and to hold another vote of the plant workers, according to Reuters.
However, even with the vocal anti-union campaign led by U.S. senator Bob Corker, and other right-to-work groups, the burden is on the UAW to prove illegal or unethical activity. Labor law does not prohibit what outside observers can say about a union election, as long as the opinions expressed are their own, and are not representing plant management. Volkswagen has met with the UAW multiple times, and gave the organization unusual access to talk to the plants employees. The organization hoped to leverage the model of “works council” employee representatives at its plants in Europe as a foot in the door. Some have interpreted U.S. labor law as only allowing for a works council arrangement through a recognized third-party union.
Under the Obama administration, the majority of NLRB board members are Democrats, and some believe that could make the board’s ruling more favorable to the UAW, but does not insure an automatic victory.