April 26, 2016
By UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel
Chattanooga, Tenn – Gary Casteel, secretary-treasurer of the UAW and director of the international union’s Transnational Department, released the following statement in response to Volkswagen’s decision to violate federal law and fight a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB):
“The UAW has asked the NLRB to issue an unfair labor practice complaint against Volkswagen Group of America. The facts are: On April 13, the NLRB issued a clear decision supporting efforts among Volkswagen skilled-trades employees to secure meaningful representation in Chattanooga. By choosing to fight the NLRB, Volkswagen is in clear violation of federal law. We are asking the NLRB to order the company to immediately abide by federal law and come to the bargaining table with its employees.
“If Volkswagen tries to force this matter into the federal court of appeals, we see it as a stall tactic that won’t work. The appeals court with jurisdiction over the Chattanooga plant already has ruled that clearly identifiable employee units within a workforce, such as the skilled-trades unit at Volkswagen, can seek recognition in order to achieve collective bargaining.
“We reject the company’s claim that recognizing and bargaining with the skilled-trades employees would somehow splinter the workforce in Chattanooga. Recognizing clearly identifiable employee units is common in the U.S. Furthermore, Volkswagen plants all over the world — including in countries such as Italy, Russia and Spain — recognize multiple unions that represent portions of a workforce.
“The reality is: Our UAW local union already represents a majority of the blue-collar workforce in Chattanooga. Volkswagen knows this because the company has verified our substantial membership level. If Volkswagen wants meaningful employee representation, the company is free to recognize the local union as the representative of its members, as it committed to do previously. It is unacceptable that the Chattanooga plant is the only facility not represented on the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, the influential body of employee leaders from around the world.
“At a time when Volkswagen already has run afoul of the federal and state governments in the emissions-cheating scandal, we’re disappointed that the company now is choosing to thumb its nose at the federal government over U.S. labor law. At the end of the day, the employees are the ones being cheated by Volkswagen’s actions.”