| DETROIT, Sept 25
DETROIT, Sept 25 Eight employees at Volkswagen
AG's Tennessee plant have said they were misled into endorsing
the United Auto Workers, handing some ammunition to opponents of
the union's efforts to organize for the first time at a
foreign-owned U.S. factory.
The UAW has countered that the complaints, which were filed
with the National Labor Relations Board, are a "frivolous and
baseless" attempt to delay negotiations between the union and
The complaints challenge the validity of cards signed by the
workers. The UAW says a majority of the 1,567 production and
maintenance workers at VW's Chattanooga plant have signed cards
supporting the union.
A majority would allow the automaker to install the union
without a formal vote if it so desired and the UAW has said it
wants to avoid a vote as it might divide the workforce.
The UAW is keen to install a "German-styled" works council
that will represent both blue- and white-collar employees at the
plant. But only the blue-collar workers would be represented by
the UAW, which would negotiate their wages and benefits.
But the National Right to Work Foundation, an anti-union
group that filed the complaints on behalf of the workers, said
the workers claimed UAW organizers told them that signing the
cards was not an endorsement of the UAW but instead called for a
secret ballot on union representation.
The complaints ask the National Labor Relations Board to
order UAW union officials "to cease and desist from demanding
recognition based upon the tainted cards."
In response, Gary Casteel, regional director in the
Southeast for the UAW, said the cards signed by the workers
clearly state the workers are supporting the UAW's effort to
represent them. The cards, seen by Reuters, include the line:
"We choose to be represented by the UAW."
Casteel added that "substantially less" than eight workers
have asked to have their signature cards revoked.
Complaints like these usually take about two months for the
labor relations board to investigate and offer an opinion on
them, said National Right to Work attorney John Raudabaugh.
The anti-union group is pushing for a formal vote, saying
that only a vote would reveal the true intentions of the workers
and that not holding a vote would be undemocratic.
Casteel said the complaints will not affect the talks
between Volkswagen and the union.
Another key issue over the cards has been whether workers
can easily revoke them.
The National Right to Work Foundation said the UAW makes it
easy for workers to sign the authorization cards at the
workplace but the workers must go to the union office to reclaim
The UAW said it has made clear that the cards can be
revoked. It supplied Reuters with letters Casteel said were sent
on Feb. 19 and June 13 to all workers who had signed union
authorization cards that said: "If you are uncomfortable with
our commitment...you are free to revoke any card you have signed
by notifying us of your desire to do so."