The United Auto Workers announced Monday morning that it was withdrawing objections filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regarding February's vote at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, effectively terminating the NLRB review process.
UAW President Bob King said the decision was made "in the best interests of Volkswagen employees, the automaker, and economic development in Chattanooga."
He said the UAW "based its decision on the belief that the NLRB’s historically dysfunctional and complex process potentially could drag on for months or even years. Additionally, the UAW cited refusals by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Senator Bob Corker to participate in a transparent legal discovery process, which undermines public trust and confidence."
Mr. King said, “The unprecedented political interference by Governor Haslam, Senator Corker and others was a distraction for Volkswagen employees and a detour from achieving Tennessee’s economic priorities. The UAW is ready to put February’s tainted election in the rearview mirror and instead focus on advocating for new jobs and economic investment in Chattanooga.”
UAW Region 8 Director Gary Casteel, who directs the union’s southern region, said the UAW’s focus "is advocating for Volkswagen to create more jobs in Tennessee by adding a new SUV line at the Chattanooga plant."
He said, "The Haslam administration in August offered nearly $300 million in incentives to bring the new SUV to Chattanooga, but attempted to make the investment contingent on whether the Chattanooga plant is organized. The Haslam administration’s contingency is contrary to Volkswagen’s successful business model, which is premised on worker representation.
“The UAW wants to help create quality jobs and build world-class products for American consumers. With this in mind, we urge Gov. Haslam to immediately extend the incentives that previously were offered to Volkswagen for this new SUV line, and do so unconditionally.”
Mr. King said the UAW has accomplished a major goal with its election objections. “The UAW’s objections informed the public about the unprecedented interference by anti-labor politicians and third parties who want to prevent workers from exercising their democratic right to choose union representation,” he said.
The UAW leader also said that outdated federal laws governing the NLRB never contemplated the level of extreme intimidation and interference that occurred in Chattanooga. Even if the NLRB ordered a new election — the board’s only available remedy under current law — nothing would stop politicians and anti-union organizations from again interfering.
He stated, "Looking ahead, the UAW believes the congressional inquiry into the Haslam administration’s incentives threat to Volkswagen provides the best opportunity for additional scrutiny. The UAW will ask Congress to examine the use of federal funds in the state’s incentives threat, in order to protect Tennessee jobs and workers in the future.
“Frankly, Congress is a more effective venue for publicly examining the now well-documented threat. We commend Congressmen George Miller and John Tierney for their leadership on this matter, and look forward to seeing the results of their inquiry.”
The surprise announcement came just before an administrative law judge was to begin a hearing at the Hamilton County Courthouse.
Senator Bob Corker was out of the country, and Governor Haslam had declined to appear.