The United Auto Workers (UAW) is celebrating a rare win among Southern auto plants, after a small unit of maintenance workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee voted to unionize. The unit makes up only 12% of the 1,400 production and maintenance workers, and they voted 108-44 in favor of the UAW. VW is appealing an earlier ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that allowed a vote of such a small unit of workers within the much larger plant. This appeal sets the stage for a possible legal battle for years to come.
This victory comes almost two years after the UAW lost a much-publicized plant-wide vote in February 2014. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, when asked for his reaction to the most recent vote, down-played the UAW win, claiming that the victory came because the union was able to “cherry-pick” the employees who were included in the vote.
This UAW win further informs employers about the impact of the NLRB’s ruling allowing such “micro-units.”