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Who will and who won’t attend NLRB hearing on VW-UAW election results

April 17th, 2014  |  David Stephanides

Update: The UAW announced in the morning hours of April 21 that it is withdrawing objections filed with the NLRB, effectively ending the case before the Board. In a statement, UAW President Bob King said the “UAW based its decision on the belief that the NLRB’s historically dysfunctional and complex process potentially could drag on for months or even years. Additionally, the UAW cited refusals by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker to participate in a transparent legal discovery process, which undermines public trust and confidence.”

“Looking ahead,” the statement contnued, “the UAW believes the congressional inquiry into the Haslam administration’s incentives threat to Volkswagen provides the best opportunity for additional scrutiny. The UAW will ask Congress to examine the use of federal funds in the state’s incentives threat, in order to protect Tennessee jobs and workers in the future.”

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On Monday, April 21, the NLRB will hold a hearing on UAW’s challenge to the mid-February no-union vote rendered by workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant. Just after the election, the UAW filed objections with the NLRB over what the union saw as interference by politicians and outside special interest groups in the election that resulted in a 712-626 vote. The UAW is asking the NLRB to set aside the election results due to third-party misconduct and to hold a new election.

At issue is alleged improper conduct by very vocal outside forces, with the union claiming foul as to comments seen as threats that were made by elected officials. Comments of Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), widely covered in the local media and repeated frequently by anti-union organizations, was cited as the most damaging to the election process.

Corker is reported to have commented that he had been “assured” that VW would manufacture its new mid-size SUV in Chattanooga if workers voted against unionization. Volkswagen’s U.S. chief executive immediately refuted his remarks, but in response, Corker suggested that his information came from executives in Germany. Corker’s comments, it is maintained, could have caused widespread fear and confusion among the workers and pressured them to vote “no.”

However, Corker says that in spite of a subpoena, he will not attend the hearing on Monday. In an e-mailed statement to WTVC News of Chattanooga, the Senator’s Chief of Staff  stated, “Everyone understands that after a clear defeat, the UAW is trying to create a sideshow, so we have filed a motion to revoke these baseless subpoenas. Neither Senator Corker nor his staff will attend the hearing on Monday.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty have also not scheduled an appearance at the hearing, but they did not explicitly rule it out.

On the other hand,  five employees represented by the National Right to Work Foundation will be attending the hearing. The UAW had sought to bar the workers from participating in the case. They have argued that VW and the union entered into a neutrality agreement that prevented the workers from getting other points of view that might otherwise have been offered by managers and supervisors.

In a decision released April 16, the NLRB said that “due to the unique circumstances of the case” the plant workers had a right to participate and offer evidence that they really intended to vote against the UAW. As they explained in a March reply motion: “The UAW’s request [to bar the workers from the hearing] must be denied because, if it were granted, there would be no party left in the case who would cross-examine the UAW’s witnesses, rebut its evidence and arguments, and otherwise defend the election results.”

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