Lawsuit Filed In Chattanooga Federal Court By Anti-UAW VW Employees; UAW Responds

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Anti-UAW employees at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga facility have filed a lawsuit in Chattanooga Federal Court "seeking to block further collusion between the company and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union should the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) order a new unionization election at VW’s Chattanooga plant."

The suit was filed with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys. Chattanooga attorney Bill Horton filed the suit.

Plaintiffs are Michael Burton, Michael Jarvis and David Reed.

Defendants are the United Auto Workers and Volkswagen. 

UAW President Bob King issued the following statement in reaction to the lawsuit filed by the National Right to Work Legal Foundation:
“The lawsuit filed by the National Right to Work Legal Foundation is baseless. At the time it negotiated its Election Agreement with Volkswagen Group of America, the UAW had already established for the Company that it was the majority representative of hourly Volkswagen employees, on the lawful basis of authorization cards signed by a majority of such employees. Moreover, even if the UAW had not demonstrated this status, the UAW's Election Agreement with Volkswagen Group of America would still be lawful, just like many other neutrality agreements the UAW and other unions have negotiated with employers throughout the United States.

“The National Right to Work Legal Foundation has a history of frivolous lawsuits trying to stop workers from joining the UAW, including failed lawsuits at Dana and Freightliner.”

After losing last month’s unionization election, UAW union officials filed objections with the NLRB seeking to overturn the election results.  Five VW workers represented by Right to Work Foundation attorneys then successfully moved to intervene in the UAW’s challenge of the election results.

Attorneys filing the suit said, "The new suit relies on Foundation-won precedent upheld by a federal appeals court that a Florida casino company’s assistance to union officials during a card check unionization campaign could constitute “thing[s] of value” under the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA).  Under the LMRA, employers are prohibited from handing over “any money or other thing of value” to union officials, a provision that is supposed to prevent them from selling out workers’ rights in exchange for corporate concessions.

"Late last year, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments and then “dismissed as improvidently granted” a union appeal of a federal court ruling that these neutrality schemes could violate federal law, thus leaving the lower court’s ruling intact. 

"The suit contends that the neutrality arrangement between VW and UAW union organizers contain numerous such prohibited provisions, including mandatory pro-union meetings, use of company property by outside UAW organizers, and clauses preventing VW and its managers from opposing unionization, all of which were implemented in the lead up to the vote that UAW lost 712-626.

"In exchange for that valuable organizing assistance, the UAW promised the company that, once workers were unionized, UAW officials would delegate many of the union’s duties to a German-style Works Council, limit bargaining demands to ensure company “cost advantages,” and not go on strike. Further, the UAW promised not to make negative comments about VW or to conduct organizing activity for one year if the union lost the election."

“UAW union officials and Volkswagen management have colluded to deprive these workers of a fair vote from the start,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation.  “Enough is enough, which is why these workers are seeking to prevent further VW assistance to the UAW’s organizing efforts.”

Click here to read the lawsuit.

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