UAW wants to divide and conquer VW, or it will withdraw from Chattanooga election

More than 18 months after its humiliating defeat trying to unionize hourly production and maintenance worker at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, TN, the United Auto Workers has filed a petition with the NLRB to hold an election involving only the plant’s maintenance employees.
Volkswagen, on the other hand—while maintaining neutrality on how its employees vote— is arguing to the NLRB that, if there is to be an election, it should include both production and maintenance employees.
At the NLRB hearing, according Chloé Morrison, a reporter with, the UAW fought against including production employees, stating that the union withdraw its election petition if production employees were included in the vote.

The United Auto Workers union doesn’t want an election unless it’s only for maintenance workers, according to testimony during a National Labor Relations Board hearing.


The UAW’s representation said Wednesday it will withdraw its petition for an election if the NLRB rules that maintenance-only workers is not an appropriate unit.

A lawyer for Volkswagen said the union thinks that the maintenance workers unit is the only group it could win representation for. [Emphasis added.]

While the NLRB may very well rule to exclude production workers given its propesity for “micro unions,” even if the UAW wins the election, the big prize will eventually be VW’s production employees.
In order for the UAW to appeal to a majority of the production employees, it will have to first negotiate contract that workers view as favorable.
In 2014, in order to obtain access to campaign inside the Chattanooga plant, the UAW negotiated a back-room “election agreement” that  would maintain “and where possible” enhance VW’s cost advantages compared to U.S. competitors.
If the UAW wins the election, whether or not the UAW will be able to negotiate anything  better than what VW already provides is maintenance department remains to be seen.
Yet, it must try if it ever stands a chance at winning the bigger prizes—VW’s production employees, then other southern auto plants.

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