No Doesn’t Mean No to the UAW

Posted by Tucker Nelson on Monday, May 5th, 2014 at 4:26 pm - Permalink

It looks like the fight isn’t over for the United Auto Workers (UAW) union and its attempts to unionize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The UAW narrowly lost its bid to unionize the Volkswagen plant back in February in a secret ballot election by a vote of 712 to 626. Under U.S. labor law the union has to wait one full year before they are allowed to hold another secret ballot election at the plant.

However, a Reuter’s piece published on April 30th explains the UAW has other options available to it to move forward in Chattanooga, beyond that of a secret ballot election.

 Citing labor experts Reuters reports that “…. the UAW could instead try to organize a smaller, specialized unit of workers, work with VW to hold a private election, or gain recognition through a process called card check.”

So it seems that the UAW has two possible options. The private election process would have to happen through a third party like the American Arbitration Association, not the National Labor Relations Board. This process could happen at any time and would not be subject to the one year time constraint.

The card check option also could take place also at any time and would require the company to accept authorization cards signed by Volkswagen employees expressing their interested in having the UAW collectively bargain on their behalf. The union would need “over 50% of the employees sign an authorization card requesting a union, the employer can voluntarily choose to waive the secret ballot election process and just recognize the union”, thus meaning no election.

Standing in the way for these alternative options is the neutrality agreement signed the 27th of January. If the private election and or card check is set to move forward someone would have to void the agreement that states that: “if the UAW does not receive a majority of the valid ballots cast….the UAW shall discontinue all organizing activities at the Chattanooga plant and all other VWGOA facilities and locations for a period of not less than one year beginning with the date of the election” (pg. 11 section c).

Though the UAW lost the election they are not going to go down without a fight, these alternatives are viable solutions to capture the Volkswagen employees as members of the UAW, it is just a matter of time before they use them.