United Auto Workers (UAW) President Bob King says the union will consider challenging the results of a representation election at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, TN, citing influences from several GOP state lawmakers and their third-party anti-union conglomerates.
Workers at the German automaker plant voted against the UAW with a 712-626 margin.
Though Volkswagen pledged to remain neutral throughout the union’s organizing drive, a number of third-party entities kicked their anti-union rhetoric and scare tactics into high gear, especially in the days leading up to the vote.
“Governor Bill Haslam, a Republican, warned that auto part suppliers would not locate in the Chattanooga area if the plant was unionized, while Senator Bob Corker said Volkswagen executives had told him that the plant would add a new production line, making SUVs, if the workers rejected the UAW,” reports The New York Times The New York Times. “In a series of interviews this week, Mr. Corker, a Republican and a former mayor of Chattanooga, asserted that a union victory would make Volkswagen less competitive and hurt workers’ living standards.”
“To step up the pressure,” continues the article, “State Senator Bo Watson, who represents a suburb of Chattanooga, warned that the Republican-controlled legislature was unlikely to approve further subsidies to Volkswagen if the workers embraced the UAW, a threat that might discourage the company from expanding. Grover Norquist, the anti-tax crusader, helped underwrite a new group, the Center for Worker Freedom, that put up 13 billboards in Chattanooga, warning that the city might become the next Detroit if the workers voted for the union.”
There are reports of a Koch brothers campaign, as well.
“We’re obviously deeply disappointed,” said King at a news conference. “We’re also outraged by the outside interference,” adding that a majority of the plant’s more than 1,500 workers had signed authorization cards in favor of joining the union just last fall. He believes the outside interference is what swung the election.
“We’ll look at our legal options over the next few days,” said King.