In February, the United Auto Workers lost a unionization ballot at VW’s Chattanooga, Tennessee facility – which it immediately contested. Now, surprising everybody, the union has retired its legal challenge.
While the union bet heavily on its ability to finally make its way into organizing foreign-owned auto plants in the US South – a region traditionally free of any unions – yesterday it made a surprising move and with just one hour before the National Labor Relations Board would hold a hearing on the matter, decided to abruptly drop its case.
UAW official Gary Casteel disclosed the decision was made last week but didn’t comment on the fact it announced it so late – for example VW workers that were called to testify were already there. On the other hand, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, Senator Bob Corker and Washington small government activist Grover Norquist announced their intention to ignore the subpoenas to attend the proceedings.
“It became obvious to us that they were going to become objectionists and not allow the process to go forward in a transparent way. When that happens, these things can drag on for years,” said Casteel.
“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,” also said Bob King, the UAW president.
While the NRLB prohibits a new election within 12 months of a valid election, the UAW could still try to unionize Souther plants, as it moves on to concentrate on Nissan’s plant near Jackson, Mississippi, or Mercedes-Benz’s facility near Tuscaloosa, Alabama.