A request for an election to determine representation of Volkswagen employees has been approved by the National Labor Relations Board.
The election will be Feb. 12, and there will be multiple voting times over a three-day period, Greg King with the NLRB said Monday.
“An election agreement has been approved, scheduling an election to commence on Feb. 12,” King said via email. “There are multiple voting times and locations over a three-day period, with the election ending in the evening on Feb. 14.”
And if the majority of employees approve representation, the UAW will implement a German-style works council, Volkswagen officials said.
“Volkswagen Group of America and the UAW have agreed to this common path for the election,” Frank Fischer, chairman and CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga, said in a prepared statement. “That means employees can decide on representation in a secret ballot election, independently conducted by the NLRB. Volkswagen is committed to neutrality and calls upon all third parties to honor the principle of neutrality.”
VW officials also said that, under the works council model, the employees would have representation on a wide range of internal issues, such as working hours, compensation and benefits.
“Employees have the right to decide, by voting in a secret ballot election, on a matter that concerns their own interests,” Sebastian Patta, vice president of human resources at Volkswagen Chattanooga, said in a prepared statement. “Volkswagen respects this democratic right at all locations worldwide.”
UAW officials also reacted in a news release.
They said that with a works council, the Chattanooga plant would have a voice in the VW Global Group Works Council, according to the news release. The model would give workers an “integral role in co-managing the company and providing input on workplace improvements that would contribute to the success of the company and the workers.”
“Volkswagen is known globally for its system of cooperation with unions and works councils,” UAW President Bob King said in a prepared statement. “The UAW seeks to partner with Volkswagen Group of America and a works council to set a new standard in the U.S. for innovative labor-management relations that benefits the company, the entire workforce, shareholders and the community. The historic success of the works council model is in line with the UAW’s successful partnerships with the domestic automakers and its vision of the 21st-century union.”
Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation-which has been working on behalf of VW employees who don’t want to work with the UAW-also issued a statement on the issue.
He said he’s happy the employees will have a chance to vote, but he’s still worried about “backroom deals” between the UAW and Volkswagen.
“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,” he said. “We call on VW to give workers opposing the union equal access and also to release any agreements it has signed regarding what would happen if the UAW union takes monopoly bargaining power over the workplace, including agreements to impose a so-called works council on the employees.”
Volkswagen employees have formed a nonprofit organization called Southern Momentum and asked executives at the company to allow them to discuss “alternative methods of worker representation” at the local plant.
Headed up by Volkswagen employee Mike Burton, who also created the No2UAW website, the workers sent a letter to CEO Frank Fischer with two requests.
The first request is for access to the VW conference center or training center to discuss alternative organization possibilities.
“Volkswagen team members are entitled to be provided with all available information concerning their options, as well as the potential implications of those choices,” Burton said in the letter, obtained by Nooga.com Monday morning. “We are simply asking that the team members be provided with information to assist them in making an informed decision.”
The second request is for a copy of the “Excelsior list,” which-according to Burton’s letter-is a list of contact information for employees who are eligible to vote in a union election.
Monday’s letter request was made on behalf of 600 team members who have signed petitions saying they don’t support the UAW efforts to organize the plant.
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Maury Nicely-with local law firm Evans Harrison Hackett, which is representing Volkswagen employees-said Monday that VW officials denied the second request.
Updated @ 12:56 p.m. on 2/3/14 to add more information as it became available.
Updated @ 3:19 p.m. on 2/3/14 to add more information as it became available.