Is Chattanooga VW plant ruling a sign labor board is pro-union?


By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog

CHATTANOOGA — The National Labor Relations Board, under President Obama, has become heavily biased in siding with unions over individuals bringing charges against them, argues a spokesman for the National Right to Work Foundation.

As an example, NRWF spokesman Patrick Semmens points to the NLRB’s ruling last week that the United Auto Workers union didn’t violate U.S. labor law in its efforts to organize at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen plant.

UAW: Won a recent case before the National Labor Relations Board regarding union organizing at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant.

“If you look at the rulemaking that has taken place through the Obama board, I think it’s definitely fair to say it has been one of the very most aggressive in the whole history of the NLRB on behalf of unions and, basically to a large degree, become an organizing arm for big labor instead of being an impartial decision maker,” Semmens said.

The NLRB has ruled in favor of more than a few cases brought by the NRWF, but those cases were too clear-cut to rule otherwise, Semmens said.

In many other cases, the NLRB, under Obama’s administration, has given unions more control over the timing of elections and encouraged more aggressive pro-union policies, Semmens said.

“That is a very troubling trend. It’s bad for the rights of individual workers who want to remain independent and free of the union.”

NLRB spokesman Greg King declined to comment on the report or what Semmens said about a possible bias in favor of unions under Obama.

In response to charges brought by the NRWF on behalf of certain Volkswagen employees, the NLRB ruled that Volkswagen executives didn’t use language meant to intimidate workers into aligning with the UAW. Additionally, the NLRB ruled that the UAW didn’t mislead VW workers into signing union cards they didn’t want to sign.

As Tennessee Watchdog has previously reported, the NRWF complained the UAW lied to certain VW employees and handed them cards they said didn’t count as a vote to join if they signed them. The NRWF said the UAW later used those cards as proof those workers wanted to organize.

“The union did not directly address the employees’ request to have the physical cards returned to them, but did say that the employees could contact the union’s office to make arrangements to meet a union representative who would destroy the cards in their presence,” according to the NLRB ruling.

PRO UNION? Has the National Labor Relations Board gotten too aggressive in favor of unions under President Obama?

“In addition, the union sent letters to all employees who had signed an authorization card, advising them of their right to revoke their authorization if they no longer supported the union. The two employees took no further action to have their cards returned or destroyed.”

Semmens, however, said the NLRB’s findings don’t necessarily reflect what really happened on the ground.

“There may be some conflicting statements in this,” Semmens would only say.

The NLRB also ruled that Volkswagen made several statements to the media supporting whatever decision employees made in favor of bringing in the UAW, with no coercion threatened.

The UAW didn’t return Tennessee Watchdog’s request for comment before publication.

An appeal of the NLRB decision is likely, Semmens said.

As Tennessee Watchdog previously reported, talks between the UAW and Volkswagen revolve around whether the UAW should form what has thus far been known as a European-style works council.

According to Semmens, no U.S. automobile factory has a works council, composed of employees representing a workforce in discussions with their employers.

Depending on whom you ask, a works council is also one of two other things — a prelude to forming an actual union or, as Semmens said, no different from already having one.

A union isn’t legally required for the type of activity that goes on in works councils, at least not in the United States, according to the NRTW website.

Tennessee is a right-to-work state, meaning workers can’t be fired for not joining the UAW and paying union dues.

If it can establish itself at VW Chattanooga, the UAW would have a presence at a foreign-owned automobile manufacturing plant for the first time in more than 20 years.

Contact Christopher Butler at or follow him and submit story ideas on his official Facebook page.

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