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.


Jen LeBaron Apponted Spa Manager At The Chattanoogan Hotel

The Chattanoogan hotel has hired Jen LeBaron as the spa manager for The Spa at The Chattanoogan, an upscale day spa located on the second floor of the hotel.  Ms. LeBaron is responsible for the daily operations and management of The Spa, including promotions and the training of staff.   Ms. LeBaron began her career in 2001 at The Spa at The Chattanoogan where she ... (click for more)

The Spice & Tea Exchange Coming To Hamilton Corner

The Spice & Tea Exchange will offer more than 140 spices, over 80 exclusive hand-mixed blends, 16 naturally-flavored sugars, an array of salts from around the world, and more than 30 exotic teas. Owners, Mike and Diane Tobin relocated from Vermont to open the store here in Chattanooga.  They fell in love with the Hamilton Corner location, with its diverse upscale stores ... (click for more)

Spiegel Says Walker County Could Make Payments On $8,705,000 Hutcheson Debt; James Says Letter is Heavy-Handed

Erlanger Health System CEO Kevin Spiegel has written Walker County Commissioner Bebe Heiskell to say that Erlanger would consider taking payments on the $8,705,000 Hutcheson debt. Stuart James, special counsel for Walker County, called the overture "heavy-handed." Walker County earlier offered a $1.3 million "global settlement" that was rejected by Erlanger. Catoosa County ... (click for more)

Customer At East Ridge Gas Station Shoots And Kills Robber; He Had Been Trying To Take Female Clerk With Him

East Ridge Police said a customer at an East Ridge gas station early Thursday morning shot a robber, who was then found by police lying outside the station and was arrested.  The robber has died.  His name is being withheld pending the notification of next of kin. At 1:47 a.m., East Ridge Police responded to 4011 Ringgold Road, the Marathon Service Station, on ... (click for more)

A Disturbing Trend At Exit 11 - And Response (5)

So, am I the first to notice a trend?   How many wrecks does exit 11 need before anyone asks "whats up with that?"  I have lost count of the wrecks that continue to happen, even after last year's awful loss of life (which I believe 51 percent of the blame should fall on the THP officer on duty).  The problem with this section of interstate are sight lines ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Garden This July

I can never remember a day in July when my garden, my lawn, my dogwood tree, and my ferns are all wilting for lack of rain. Right now we are more than eight inches under our average rainfall for the first six months and, on this wonderful weekend, those who love firecrackers are urged to keep a pail of water in case a spark could cause a fire. On the other hand, every July 4 th ... (click for more)