In what was a much-anticipated vote held in the middle of June 2019, workers at the Tennessee Volkswagen plant voted against unionizing. The efforts of the United Auto Workers’ (UAW) to unionize a manufacturing plant of a foreign company in Tennessee failed narrowly in the vote, according to a report from Reuters.
The vote not to unionize was very narrow, with a count of 833 to 776 against the formation of a union at the plant. This is the second time in the previous five years that employees at the Volkswagen plant have voted down the opportunity to unionize.
A representative for the UAW said that the union hasn’t determined whether or not it will challenge the results of the vote or call for a third vote of the employees at the plant. The representative also made claims that Volkswagen engaged in intimidation tactics, threats, and played games with the employees, noting that the union will not abandon the employees who were in favor of unionizing.
The UAW has been working to unionize a foreign-run plant in the Southern portion of the United States for quite some time now. Why? The UAW claims that automakers have been taking advantage of the low wages paid at plants in the South. The UAW was hoping the vote would be a successful one in order to gain leverage when negotiating contracts with all automakers operating in the country.
The president of Volkswagen Chattanooga, Frank Fischer, said the following in a statement after the vote: “Our employees have spoken. Pending certification of the results… Volkswagen will respect the decision of the majority.”
This is actually a bigger deal than you might think. The country has seen a marked decrease in the number of unions, and many states – including Tennessee – have instituted “right to work” laws that limit the powers of existing unions, and make it difficult for new ones to take hold. The one thing that right to work laws cannot do, however, is allow employers to disregard labor laws or collective bargaining agreements, or engage in retaliation efforts against union employees.
Do you have a grievance to file with your union? If so, it’s in your best interest to utilize your union rep as well as an experienced Tennessee labor law attorney from the Gilbert Firm. Call us at 888-996-9731 or complete a contact form to schedule an appointment in Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, Jackson, or Knoxville.