Volkswagen has refused to bargain with the UAW as the representative of 165 skilled maintenance workers at VW’s Chattanooga facility. Consequently, the UAW has filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB. VW’s refusal to bargain with the UAW is the only means for VW to challenge the recent election.
On December 14, the NLRB certified the UAW as the exclusive bargaining agent for a unit of 165 skilled maintenance workers based on the UAW’s December 4 election victory. VW has contested the legitimacy of a union election over such a small unit in a facility of over 1,400 production and maintenance employees. VW contends that the 165 skilled maintenance workers share an overwhelming community of interests with the other production and maintenance workers at the Chattanooga facility. Thus, VW argues that the appropriate bargaining unit consists of all 1,400 workers.
Under the NLRA, VW’s only means to challenge the micro-unit in its facility is to refuse to bargain with the UAW. An NLRB Administrative Law Judge will likely find a violation of the federal labor law, which sets up an appeal to the full NLRB in Washington, D.C., and then an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals. Unless VW relents, this appeal process could take three years.