Brown Blasts NLRB Decision That Delays Volkswagen Workers the Right to Unionize In Chattanooga

Senator: Efforts to Delay Union Elections Undermine the Dignity of Work

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today blasted efforts to delay union elections at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Workers at the VW plant have been petitioning for the right to organize and collectively bargain for months. This afternoon, the Republican-stacked National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a rejection of the United Auto Workers (UAW) bid to unionize. While the workers can still file their petition for a vote again, Brown called efforts to delay these elections an affront to the dignity of work. 

Earlier this week, Brown joined Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) in demanding answers from Volkswagen following the NLRB’s recent decision to grant the company’s request to halt all election proceedings for workers petitioning to organize with the UAW. In their letter to VW CEO Scott Keogh, the Senators urge VW to ensure any election is free and fair, and they ask a number of questions regarding the current situation. Brown says this effort to stymie union election efforts is an affront to workers. 

“For years, the ability of workers to unionize has given employees the opportunity to bargain for better wages and benefits. Unions have been one of our nation’s strongest voices for workplace safety and fairness, and the NLRB’s delay tactics are an affront to workers. We will continue fighting these efforts to undermine the dignity of work,” said Brown. 

These anti-union efforts have come after ongoing attempts to organize at the Chattanooga plant, including an attempt made in December 2015 with 160 skilled trade maintenance workers who voted to unionize and affiliate with the UAW. Following the vote, VW refused to bargain with the UAW, stating the unit needed to include both skilled trade maintenance workers and production workers. This led the UAW to file a charge to the NLRB on Volkswagen’s refusal to bargain. Last April, the UAW withdrew the pending charges with the NLRB, clearing the way for workers to file a new petition to involve both skilled trade maintenance and production workers. Earlier this month, the NLRB dismissed the refusal to bargain charge against VW and also gave no indication as to when the halt on the union certification will be lifted.