Peters, Stabenow, Brown Disappointed by VW Response Following Concerns Senators Raised About Union Election at Volkswagen Plant in Chattanooga

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI), Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Sherrod Brown (OH) released the following statements after receiving a response from Volkswagen (VW) regarding the delayed union election at the Volkswagen Plant in Chattanooga. The senators had requested more information from VW last month following the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) recent decision to grant Volkswagen’s request to halt all election proceedings for workers petitioning to organize with the United Auto Workers (UAW) at a plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The senators received VW’s response after UAW recently filed a new petition for a union vote at the Chattanooga plant. A new election is set for June 12-14.

“While I appreciate that VW responded to our request, I’m disappointed the automaker failed to provide answers to the concerns we raised and question VW’s claim that it is neutral on UAW’s upcoming union election at the Chattanooga plant,” said Senator Peters.

“This response from VW is not enough,” said Senator Stabenow. “Workers need answers from VW on how it will ensure free and fair union elections.”

“VW should never have denied its employees the opportunity to bargain for better wages and benefits in the first place. If VW is truly going to be neutral, the company must go out of its way to protect its workers from all anti-union intimidation and harassment between now and the union election,” said Senator Brown.

Peters, Stabenow and Brown urged VW in a May 21 letter to ensure any election is free and fair, and they asked a number of questions regarding the current situation. “We are writing to express our deep concern with delays to an election on union representation for maintenance and production workers at Volkswagen’s manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee,” the Senators wrote. “Workers have a fundamental right to choose whether they have union representation in the workplace. Any delay in the election further enables anti-union campaigns to target and intimidate workers and violate that fundamental right, and we urge you to immediately drop any efforts to oppose or postpone the election of a union in the Chattanooga plant.”

The NLRB decision followed ongoing efforts to organize at the Chattanooga plant including an attempt made in December 2015 with 160 skilled trade maintenance workers who voted to unionize and affiliate with the UAW. Following the vote, VW refused to bargain with the UAW, stating the unit needed to include both skilled trade maintenance workers and production workers. This led the UAW to file a charge to the NLRB on Volkswagen’s refusal to bargain. Last April, the UAW withdrew the pending charges with the NLRB, clearing the way for workers to file a new petition to involve both skilled trade maintenance and production workers. Last month, the NLRB dismissed the refusal to bargain charge against VW.