Volkswagen To Appeal Piecemeal Unionizing Drive

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The United Auto Workers (UAW) attempts to unionize a subgroup of Volkswagen employees in Chattanooga, Tenn., may soon face an appeal by the automaker, according to reports Tuesday.

Volkswagen has insisted that it’s neutral on the idea of unions. The latest effort to unionize a subgroup of workers as opposed to the entire plant, however, has put the company and union at odds. Volkswagen doesn’t want workers split between union and nonunion. The National Labor Relations Board ruled Nov. 18 that the union could hold an election for the subgroup of workers. The company now plans to appeal the decision, The Associate Press reports.

Volkswagen has argued the subgroup of skilled workers is just too small. It has instead advocated for a full vote of the more than 1,400 maintenance and production employees at the plant. The problem is, the union has failed previously to organize the entire plant. In February 2014, workers at the plant voted 712 to 626 against representation.

The Chattanooga Volkswagen plant has been a longtime target of the union. In response to its inability to organize the entire facility, the UAW shifted its strategy. The new approach involved getting as many workers as possible, rather than the entire facility.

The timing of the current unionizing drive has also raised questions. Volkswagen is dealing with a national scandal involving how it tests emissions. On Sept. 18 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice that Volkswagen was in violation of the Clean Air Act. The EPA alleged the automaker intentionally programmed car engines to game emissions tests.

Despite the most recent disagreement, Volkswagen has been helpful to the UAW. It released a policy Nov. 12 that sets guidelines essentially supporting the move to unionize a percentage of workers.  The policy establishes three different levels that grant a labor group different bargaining rights, depending on how many signatures it gets.

The two-day vote is scheduled to begin Thursday. The challenge is not intended to disrupt the election but instead proceed after ballots have been cast.

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