By Al Kinzer
On March 10, 2014, the NLRB Acting Regional Director issued an order allowing two groups of VW workers opposed to the UAW and an another organization to intervene in a hearing on the UAW’s effort to have its election defeat set aside. After the UAW’s 712-626 defeat at Volkswagen, the UAW filed objections to the election based on the conduct of certain Tennessee politicians and certain “outside” groups.
In its election objections, the UAW specifically targeted two “outside” groups, National Right to Work Foundation (NRWF) and Southern Momentum. Both the NRWF and Southern Momentum have been representing VW workers opposed to the UAW and assisted those workers in campaigning against the UAW. On behalf of certain VW workers opposed to the UAW, both the NRWF and Southern Momentum moved to intervene in the UAW’s efforts to toss out the NLRB election results.
Not surprisingly, the UAW opposed the NRWF and Southern Momentum’s motions. Somewhat surprising was that VW actively opposed the motions, though both organizations represent VW workers.
Despite the UAW and VW’s opposition, the NLRB’s Acting Regional Director in Atlanta granted both NRWF and Southern Momentum’s motions to intervene, meaning that those organizations can fully participate in the hearing on the UAW’s election objections by:
- Offering evidence in rebuttal to the UAW’s objections;
- Cross-examining the UAW’s witnesses; and
- Filing legal briefs before the NLRB.
The NLRB has not yet set a date for the hearing on the UAW’s objections, but with the NLRB’s recent order, the hearing could become quite the event. The UAW now has an interesting strategic decision. If the UAW goes forward with its objections, the NLRB hearing could turn into the labor law equivalent of the Scopes Monkey Trial. It will also start a legal process that could take over a year, and that time is significant.
Under the NLRA, a union that loses an election can petition the NLRB for another election one year after the NLRB has certified the election results. The NLRB, however, cannot certify the election results until all election objections are resolved. Thus, because of the UAW’s election objections, the NLRB has not certified the UAW’s defeat at VW. Accordingly, the one-year period has not yet started to run. If the UAW had not filed election objections, it could have petitioned for another election as early as February 22, 2015. Because of its objections, the UAW may have delayed when it can petition for another election.
Such a delay became even more likely when, late on March 12, 2014, the UAW announced its intention to appeal the Acting Regional Director’s order granting NRWF and Southern Momentum’s motion to intervene to the NLRB in Washington D.C.