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Chattanooga Volkswagen employees petition for union election vote, experts explain

(Photo Credit: Local 3 News) From our partners at Local 3 News: Chattanooga Volkswagen employees have filed a petition with the National Labor Relati

(Photo Credit: Local 3 News)

From our partners at Local 3 News: Chattanooga Volkswagen employees have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board, requesting a union election vote to join the United Auto Workers Union, or UAW.


While some are in support, others against union plans, can still take action.


“Now is a very good time for us to get this done and continue helping the company succeed,” said Isaac Meadows, a Volkswagen Employee.


The UAW claims a supermajority of the plant’s 4,000 production workers have signed cards supporting union representation.


They are the first to ask for a vote in the union’s campaign, which was announced last fall after the UAW won contracts with Detroit automakers.


“So we’re going to come together as a union and get a voice and let them know we’re the most valuable asset of this plant,” said Meadows.


Jimmy Rodgers, a practicing union-side and labor law attorney, told our news team about the message this sends to other factories across the South.


“ I think it’s gonna put a lot of especially the major employers on edge because they’re going to see that this is certainly possible and if this succeeds,” said Rodgers.


Rodgers explained what would happen if the vote went in their favor.


“Union representation can lead to higher labor costs for employers, which may not be desirable for them,” he said. “Additionally, union members have access to grievance and arbitration rights that are not available to at-will employees, such as the current Volkswagen workers.”


The UAW has tried to unionize the workers at the Volkswagen plant in 2014 and again in 2019, both failed.


Rodgers says this time may be different.


“There’s a growing movement, especially among younger workers, to support unions. So the UAW, I think, is trying to parlay that into success here locally and then use the success here as a building block to jump to the Toyota plant in Huntsville or Hyundai in Montgomery and other facilities and just keep the ball rolling.”


Volkswagen has responded to the petition, saying:


“We respect our workers’ right to a democratic process and to determine who should represent their interests. We will fully support an NLRB vote so every team member has a chance to vote in privacy in this important decision. The election timeline will be determined by the NLRB. Volkswagen is proud of our working environment in Chattanooga that provides some of the best paying jobs in the area.”


Mark Mix, President of the National right to work legal defense says those against unionizing have rights and should know their options.


“What we want to do is make sure those employees know they don’t have to sign the card, that if they did sign the card they can revoke it based on new information they may have or something that arises that says ‘Hey, wait a minute. I’m not quite sure anymore that I want to do this,” said Mix.