After Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee workers declined unionization efforts from the UAW, the union challenged the result of the vote citing outside interference. Now, a new test could be pivotal in settling the dispute.
The US National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, is the country’s labor regulator – and it looks it would look to the legal test to determine the third-party interference factor. The UAW asked the NLRB to proceed with the test, which has a five-factor standard and was previously used to determine if other union elections were corrupted in some way.
The Westwood test, which usually is used to factor if workers bully other workers during elections, is, according to experts unclear if it can be applied in this specific case, when the UAW calls it to asses outside, not inside, interference.
The test “doesn’t fit particularly well when you’re talking about the statements of elected officials, exercising their First Amendment rights, who aren’t immediately involved in the election process itself,” said Ronald Meisburg, a former NLRB general counsel.
The UAW lost the now famous February 14 election in a 712-626 vote and argued the election should be discarded because anti-union groups and especially some politicians attacked them.
The problem is that while the NLRB rules clearly say what a union and the management can say, third party interventions are not very clearly regulated and US politicians have a big freedom of speech.