Labor Attorney Says Workplace Situation At Chattanooga Volkswagen Could Still Change

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - by Hollie Webb

Labor and Employment Attorney Dan Gilmore told members of the Hixson Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday that, even after the vote by Volkswagen employees not to affiliate with the UAW, the situation could still change.

The UAW has filed an appeal, asking to have another election, without what it has called "outside interference." In a statement, the UAW said the reason for the appeal was the "coordinated and widely publicized coercive campaign conducted by politicians and outside organizations to deprive Volkswagen workers of their federally protected right to join a union."

In response to the UAW's appeal, two organizations have filed motions to the National Labor Relations Board against the UAW. Funded by the National Right to Work Legal Foundation, three Volkswagen employees and Attorneys Bill Horton and William Messenger said in their motion that Volkswagen unfairly helped the UAW during the time before the election.

The second group pursuing legal action is Southern Momentum, a nonprofit founded to stop the UAW from becoming part of Volkswagen. Southern Momentum filed a motion to the NLRB asking for the UAW appeal to be denied and the election results to stand.Volkswagen released a statement saying it does not support either group.

Attorney Gilmore said it could be months before the election results are either ruled as final or reversed. He said the whole situation is "uncharted territory" and that "things may happen that have never happened before."

Currently, under United States labor laws, a Works Council cannot exist without a union. Attorney Gilmore said, "It's important to know that the Chattanooga plant is one of the only ones in the world that does not have a Works Council."

He said in Germany the Works Council is regarded as important because of the structure for feedback it provides. He also said the election process here is "unusual" because the UAW was allowed to go into the facility and speak with employees. He said it was "very unusual, in my experience, to have that kind of arrangement."

He said most companies are very vocally opposed to unionization. He also pointed out that the median time frame between a petition being filed and a scheduled election is 38 days; At Volkswagen, the election occurred 11 days after the petition was filed by UAW.

He said, "The objective was to get it over with so Volkswagen could have their Works Council."

A man in the audience said the concept of the Works Council was actually an American idea introduced in Germany after World War II. He said, "One of the key differences in a Works Council and a union is the Works Council is non adversarial." He said it encourages employees and company management to work together rather than fighting.

Attorney Gilmore said, looking at the future, several things could possibly happen. After a year from the petition filing date, another union would be legally able to try to represent the Volkswagen employees. He also said laws could potentially change to allow a Works Council without a union. However, he pointed out that getting anything through Congress could be a challenge.


First Tennessee March Of Service Promotes Volunteerism

Continuing a tradition launched following the celebration of its 150th anniversary in 2014, First Tennessee is once again promoting “March of Service” projects to benefit local nonprofits. The annual volunteer effort is a call to action for First Tennessee workers to invest in their communities. Each March the company’s 4,300 employees pitch in to participate in service projects ... (click for more)

Georgia’s Unemployment Rate Declines To 5.3 Percent In February, As State Sets Records For Employment And Labor Force

The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that the state’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 5.3 percent in February, down two-tenths of a percentage point from 5.5 percent in January. In February 2016, the unemployment rate was also 5.5 percent. “Our unemployment rate fell as Georgia set new record highs for the number of people employed and for the ... (click for more)

Pet Dog Dies In Trailer Fire Near Signal Mountain Road

A pet dog died in a trailer fire off Signal Mountain Road on Wednesday night.   Chattanooga firefighters responded to a structure fire around  9:30 p.m.  in a mobile home park at 174 Bledsoe Terrace. The woman who lived there told Battalion Chief Carlos Hampton that she had just left for work when the fire was discovered. The firefighters got the ... (click for more)

Judge Bales To Ask Governor Haslam For Disability Leave

General Sessions Court Judge Clarence Shattuck said he received a letter from Judge David Bales Tuesday evening, saying he was in the process of preparing a letter to Governor Bill Haslam requesting he be placed on disability leave until he has received clearance from his doctor to return to the bench.   Judge Bales said that his doctors are preparing their recommendations ... (click for more)

Repeal Obamacare, Congressman Fleischmann - And Response (2)

Chuck: I'm writing to express my strong opposition to the plan that is being rolled out by Paul Ryan to replace Obamacare. And as I'm writing this, I'm remembering all the times you and all of your Republican colleagues over the last six years campaigned on REPEALING  Obamacare and used that call to action as the basis for your reelection. And I'm also remembering the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: You, The Bald-Headed Lady

You were wearing a pretty sweat shirt and blue jeans when I saw you outside the Infusion Center at Erlanger Hospital on Wednesday. You were the one who was nearly bald and I was the guy you greeted with a huge smile as we said hello in passing. You reminded me exactly of my brother Franklin. Years ago when chemotherapy began to rob him of his hair, Franklin was pretty devastated ... (click for more)