Four Volkwagen employees opposed to being unionized by the United Auto Workers in Tennessee have filed an unfair labor practice charge against Volkswagen management for coercing them into accepting union representation.
According to a National Right to Work Foundation press release:
The charge comes after senior VW management in Germany stated, according to recent media reports, that for any expanded production to be considered in Chattanooga, the plant must adopt a works council that would force workers to accept the representation of UAW union officials.
Since last summer, officials with VW’s German union have threatened in the media that, if VW’s Chattanooga employees do not have representation on VW’s Works Council, expansion of the Tennessee plant would be in jeopardy.
Under Germany’s “co-determination” labor relations model, unions have as much control over a company’s operations as management does. As such, to most Americans, the German system could be considered like having two sets of management–each with control over the direction of the company.
Since VW’s German union sits on the company’s board of directors, the union (in VW’s case) is in a unique position to cause economic harm to Chattanooga employees should they choose not to have representation, which could be deemed unlawful coercion.
Under U.S. labor law, workers in the United States are legally allowed to decide to have union (or other forms of) representation. Just as importantly, workers are legally allowed to decide not to have representation by a union (or other entity).
When either a union or employer threatens employees with adverse consequences dependent on how employees exercise their legally-protected rights, it should be considered coercive. and, as such, a violation of (in this case) the National Labor Relations Act.
According to the National Right to Work Foundation:
The workers point out in their charge that Volkswagen’s threat that failure to accept the union would risk losing potential for job growth “interfere[s] with Chattanooga facility employees’ rights to choose whether or not to engage in self-organization to form, join, or assist labor organizations.”
“With reports that Volkswagen is considering Chattanooga to build its new SUV, this is no idle threat,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “If VW management was discouraging workers from joining the UAW with threats, there’s little question that an NLRB prosecution would have already begun at the UAW’s behest.” [Emphasis added.]
Once Obama’s National Labor Relations Board opens back up, the question remains:
Will the union appointees at the NLRB actually care about anti-UAW employees’ rights enough to do anything about VW’s pro-union threats?
“Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.”
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)