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UAW Holds Election With ‘No Concern’ For Volkswagen Workers

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The American Council of Employees (ACE) in a letter Thursday expresses great concern over how the United Auto Workers is trying to unionize employees at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The union is trying to organize a subgroup of 164 skilled workers. Despite Volkswagen being generally supportive of the union, it opposes the latest effort. The automaker doesn’t want employees split between union and nonunion. It instead advocates for a full vote of the more than 1,400 maintenance and production employees at the plant. ACE echoes the same concerns in addition to others in its letter.

“This week, some VW-Chattanooga Team Members are asked to vote as to whether they want to be represented exclusively by the United Auto Workers,” the letter, which was obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation, states. “Unfortunately, the UAW, admitting their failures to secure support of a true majority, denied us the right to vote together as a unified workforce, opting instead to subdivide maintenance workers with no concern for how this might negatively impact employees’ long term interests.”

The subgroup of skilled workers will vote Thursday and Friday. The union failed previously to organize the entire plant and since moved to a piecemeal approach. In February 2014, workers at the plant voted 712 to 626 against representation.

“Most upsetting is the fact that the UAW would chose such an inappropriate time to demand an election,” the letter continues. “As we all know, Volkswagen and our facility are in the midst of a crisis. We need unity now more than ever. The company needs our support to overcome some very significant challenges.”

Volkswagen at the moment is dealing with an international scandal involving how it tests emissions. It started Sept. 18 when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice that the automaker is in violation of the Clean Air Act. The EPA alleges the company intentionally programmed car engines to not properly detect emissions. About a month later the union filed paperwork Oct. 23 with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seeking a union election.

Despite the most recent disagreement, Volkswagen has been helpful to the UAW. It released a policy November of 2014 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 only issue is the company opposes the piecemeal approach. The NLRB ruled Nov. 18 the union can hold an election for the subgroup of workers. The company now plans to appeal the decision. The following month, UAW was able to get the highest level of rights under the policy.

ACE used the policy to gain some representation rights as well. The union, though, points out the very policy the company enacted shows it doesn’t really oppose the concept of unionizing subgroups of workers.

“We’re calling on Volkswagen to drop this appeal and instead refocus on the core values that made it a successful brand, including environmental sustainability and employee representation,” Union Secretary Treasurer Gary Casteel says in a statement. “Chattanooga is the company’s only plant in the world that does not have a seat on the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, and that needs to change if the plant is going to play a meaningful role in Volkswagen’s comeback story.”

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.