Updated 10:00 am
Federal hearings into the failed union vote at Volkswagen were set to begin in Chattanooga Monday morning. But the United Auto Workers withdrew its challenge a mere hour before proceedings were set to begin.
The UAW’s director of the southern region – Gary Casteel – says it didn’t make sense to go forward if Republican officials like Gov. Bill Haslam and Sen. Bob Corker weren’t going to show. Both rebuffed a summons to appear.
“They can stall from now to doomsday. We decided to go another route and get out of that cumbersome NLRB process.”
Casteel calls the National Labor Relations Board review a “toothless tiger.” He points to one other time the UAW was able to get a new election that way. It took six years.
A written statement from the union says walking away from the challenge is in the best interest of VW, its employees and economic development in Chattanooga. Volkswagen is still considering whether to build a new SUV at the Tennessee plant, which would mean a massive expansion.
“The UAW is ready to put February’s tainted election in the rearview mirror and instead focus on advocating for new jobs and economic investment in Chattanooga,” said union president Bob King in the statement.
While the UAW may be moving on, Democratic members of Congress are still investigating whether there was political interference.
Asked for reaction, Gov. Bill Haslam’s spokesman Dave Smith issued a statement:
“We thought the appeal was baseless to begin with. It was a fair election. The governor believes in elections and living with the results.”
Sen. Bob Corker suggests in a statement that the UAW’s appeal slowed expansion talks at VW’s plant. The former Chattanooga mayor had said during the union vote that if workers denied the UAW, Volkswagen would make an expansion announcement for the Tennessee plant within weeks.
“This 11th hour reversal by the UAW affirms what we have said all along — that their objection was nothing more than a sideshow to draw attention away from their stinging loss in Chattanooga,” Corker said.