Although card check failed as a matter of public policy several years ago, unions still often try to push their way into companies without employees voting on the matter. Such is the case of the United Auto Workers (UAW) at Volkswagen in Chattanooga, TN, this week.
Volkswagen AG said it’s denying a request by the United Auto Workers to be recognized as sole representative of employees at the company’s factory in Tennessee and to establish the first German-style works council in the U.S.
The automaker said in a statement Thursday that it plans to continue to work with the UAW as well as the American Council of Employees, a rival organization. Earlier in the day, the Detroit-based UAW said it was asking for the sole recognition.
Why the chicken crossed the road. After suffering a huliliating defeat in 2014, the United Auto Workers has been working overtime to devise a creative way to unionize VW’s employees—even going so far as establishing a local union that does not currently have collective bargaining rights.
In doing so, the UAW has convinced a number of VW employees (as well as the press) that the only way to have a so-called Works Council is to unionize with the UAW.
“It’s a chicken-and-the-egg syndrome,” UAW boss Gary Casteel (who spearheaded the UAW’s failed attempt last year) told reporters on a conference call. “There can’t be a works council until the union is recognized to collectively bargain.”
Notwithstanding the fact that, under U.S. labor law, the UAW cannot delegate its duties as “exclusive bargaining representative” to another party (e.g., a Works Council), the UAW’s proposal suggests that it will delegate much of its traditional duties as a union over to a Works Council comprised of bargaining unit and non-bargaining unit personnel—which, by itself, is legally suspect.
UAW Rival’s Threat to UAW Trojan Horse. The UAW’s move to unionize Volkswagen’s employees without an election may be the result of the American Council of Employees’ (ACE)—an independent union comprised of VW employees opposed to the UAW—having earlier proposed the creation of a Works Council.
“Our recent discussions with management have confirmed what we already knew—that the UAW is legally incapable of establishing a works council,” stated Sean Moss, ACE President in a late-April press release. “Since establishing a works council is the employees’ primary goal and the driving force behind employee organizing, ACE has taken ownership of this important issue, and last week presented management with a detailed proposal for creating a works council at VW-Chattanooga. Certainly, our progress threatens employee support for the UAW, and that’s why we are now seeing the UAW push to avoid an election and instead be recognized through card check.”
Representation Without An Election. By getting VW employees to sign up with the non-bargaining local, the UAW recently reported to the Department of Labor that it had 816 members (or approximately 55% of the VW workforce).
Legally, if a union has more than 50% of employees sign union-authorization cards, it can ask an employer to recognize the union without an election.
However, because unions are legally allowed to mislead employees into signing authorization cards, many employers maintain their employees’ right to vote for or against union representation through a secret-ballot election—just as Volkswagen did last year.
UAW cards may be growing stale. After its loss last year, the UAW announced the formation of its local in July 2014. As a result, the UAW is coming up on a year since it began signing VW employees up under the auspices of Local 42.
As some of the UAW’s authorization cards may be growing “stale”—after a year, the UAW may need to start re-signing VW employees with new cards—the UAW may believe the time to demand recognition from VW is growing shorter.
Whether or not the employees who signed UAW cards knew ahead of time that the UAW would, in fact, try to deny them the right to vote in a secret-ballot election as the UAW did on Thursday is unknown.
If, however, the employees did not know that the UAW would attempt to unionize them without an election, they can revoke their authorization cards by sending a simple letter to the union.
In the meantime, it appears that the UAW’s scheme to unionize Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant has been foiled again—at least temporarily.
- Analysis: How UAW Bosses Rode Into Chattanooga And Promptly Fell Off Their Trojan Horse
- After Volkswagen Loss, UAW Bosses Turn To Bovine Excrement Manufacturing
* Editor’s Note: This post has not been endorsed, paid for, or otherwise sponsored bvy any person, entity, or group. However, last year, after having written about the UAW’s plot to infiltrate the South since 2010, a friend asked me whether I would be willing to help the Volkswagen employees who were opposed to unionization by the UAW.
Without hesitation, I said yes and, over the course of approximately three weeks (for which we were paid by a non-profit worker center—similar to those worker centers that unions use today), we were able to help a team of VW employees discover the truth behind the UAW’s deception that had been foisted on the Chattanooga workforce—simply by providing the employees with the NLRB’s own document, The Basic Guide to the National Labor Relations Act and helping to explain the law’s ramifications.