To Unionize Or Not To Unionize: Vote Imminent For VW Chattanooga

UAW supporters prop up signs of support in their car windows while parked at work. The VW plant in Chattanooga makes the Passat. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

UAW supporters prop up signs of support in their car windows while parked at work. The VW plant in Chattanooga makes the Passat. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

A formal vote has now been scheduled, and workers at Volkswagen’s Tennessee plant will decide through a secret ballot whether to be represented by the UAW. The union initially hoped the German automaker would accept signed union cards from a majority of employees.

In a statement, Volkswagen Chattanooga CEO Frank Fischer says the company and the United Auto Workers “agreed to this common path” of holding a secret ballot instead of simply accepting signed union cards.

“The only reason we’re going through this vote is because of all this right-wing, third party, hoopla,” says Gary Casteel, UAW director for the southern region. “They don’t want the appearance of anything but what’s above board and proper.”

Anti-union groups have put up billboards and filed legal complaints of intimidation. Even Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has discouraged the company from working with a union.

The National Labor Relations Board has scheduled the vote for February 12-14. Volkswagen officials have asked in a statement that outside groups “honor the principle of neutrality” and let workers decide for themselves.

The National Right To Work Foundation, which has helped a handful of workers file complaints, says it is pleased that employees will get the chance to vote in secret.

“However, we are concerned about the existence of backroom deals cut between Volkswagen and UAW officials giving union organizers preferential access to the workers leading up to the election,” organization president Mark Mix says in a statement.

Anti-union groups have asked for “equal access” leading up to this month’s union vote.


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