A majority of the National Labor Relations Board has put down a seven-page ruling dismissing a petition by the United Auto Workers union for a general membership election at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant.
The ruling says the UAW earlier was certified as the bargaining agent for a smaller group of Chattanooga VW workers, then the union sought to represent all the plant workers. It says, "The Board’s longstanding certification year policy precludes any challenge to a union’s majority status for one year following its certification, except in unusual circumstances."
Member Lauren McFerren dissented, saying, "There was no reason in this case to prevent the proceedings in the Region—including an election, if one were ordered by the Regional Director—from continuing uninterrupted. Instead, the majority has chosen to intervene and require the dismissal of the petition. But its rationale has no support in Board law or in the policies of the National Labor Relations Act. Requiring dismissal of the petition will only further delay these workers’ longstanding quest for a bargaining representative, effectively rewarding the employer’s strategic manipulation of the Board’s process and preventing its workers from getting the opportunity to vote that they are entitled to and deserve."
Also on Wednesday, the UAW filed a new petition with the NLRB for a vote at the Chattanooga plant.
The majority opinion says, "The Employer’s request for review of the Regional Director’s Order Deferring Ruling on Motion to Dismiss Petition is granted as it raises substantial issues warranting review.
"On review, we direct the Regional Director to dismiss the petition.
"On December 14, 2015, the Board certified United Automobile Workers, Local 42 as the representative of a unit of the Employer’s maintenance employees in Case 10– RC–162530. On April 9, 2019, the Petitioner filed a petition in this case, seeking an election in a unit of the Employer’s production and maintenance employees. On April 17, 2019, the General Counsel and United Auto Workers, Local 42 filed a motion to dismiss the complaint in Case 10–CA–166500.
"The motion asserts that Local 42 notified all parties, on April 15, 2019, that it wished to withdraw the petition in Case 10–RC–162530 and that it disclaimed interest in representing the “employees of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.,” in the unit certified in that case.
"The Board granted the motion on May 3, and the Regional Director thereafter dismissed the complaint and revoked the certification in Case 10–RC–162530. The Board’s longstanding certification year policy precludes any challenge to a union’s majority status for one year following its certification, except in unusual circumstances. Van Dorn Plastic Machinery Co., 300 NLRB 278 (1990), enfd. 939 F.2d 402 (6th Cir. 1991).
"Thus, the Board will dismiss election petitions filed before the end of the certification year that seek to represent some or all of the employees in the certified unit, including petitions that seek to include employees in the certified unit as part of a broader, plant-wide unit."
Members of the anti-UAW group Southern Momentum welcomed the ruling, saying the NLRB had "slapped down a petition from the United Auto Workers (UAW) to hold an election at the Volkswagen Chattanooga facility while an unresolved election issue was pending."
Chattanooga attorney Maury Nicely said, “Today, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the UAW played improper legal games in filing its petition to represent production and maintenance workers, despite the fact that there was already a certification of the maintenance workers in place.
"The union knew what it was doing was legally wrong, but they did it anyway. When they got caught in their legal games, they tried to reverse course, while continuing to blame the company for their own wrongdoing.
“Now the NLRB has ruled that Volkswagen was right all along, and the UAW was wrong. The UAW repeatedly accused Volkswagen of delay, but the NLRB ruled that ‘any delay is solely due to [the union’s] having filed its petition during the certification year.’ Workers should not put their faith in a union that refuses to follow the law, blames others for their own mistakes, repeatedly attacks an employer who has meant so much to this community, and has a track record of failure and divisiveness."
Tony Walker, a local VW team member, was quoted as saying, “This is yet further proof that the UAW is dishonest, does not care about us and is only interested in lining its own pockets. The UAW needs to stop playing games with our future.”
Click here to read the ruling.