In February, workers at a Volkswagen AG plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. voted 712-626 against United Auto Workers (UAW) representation, despite cooperation from Volkswagen. The UAW challenged the election results, saying the election was poisoned by the anti-union groups, including allegations that Republican lawmakers made statements designed to convince plant employees that state-financed incentives would be jeopardized if they voted to join the union ranks. In April, the UAW unexpectedly abandoned an appeal to overturn the election on the same day a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) hearing on the issue was scheduled to begin. The UAW said that it was choosing to focus on job creation over being dragged through the NLRB’s “historically dysfunctional” process.
At the AFL-CIO convention, Rick Bloomingdale, president of Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, stated that the union would be in “dire straits” if it did not reverse the trend in its declining membership. According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of the unionized workers has fallen to 11.3 percent, compared with more than 20 percent in 1983.
A group of 450 military helicopter mechanics, technicians, and maintenance personnel employed by L3 at the Corpus Christi Army Depot in Texas voted to be represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). IAM cited the L3 employees’ concerns about changes to benefits and job security as leading reasons for the successful representation vote.
University of Connecticut graduate research assistants voted for union recognition by the Graduate Employee Union/United Auto Workers. The more than 2,100-member unit is the first recognized unit of graduate assistants in the state.
JetBlue Airway’s 2,500 pilots voted for representation by the AirLine Pilots Association (ALPA). JetBlue and ALPA will now organize negotiating committees. ALPA was rejected by the pilots in a vote only two years ago.
The National Mediation Board (NMB) ruled that Frontier Airlines Inc.’s December 2013 sale created a new and separate transportation system from Republic Airways Holdings Inc. (“RAH”), its former parent company. NMB found that the Frontier Airline Pilots Association (FAPA), Frontier Airlines’ pilots’ union prior to 2011, qualified for an election on whether to replace the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT). IBT had opposed FAPA’s application and supported a NMB decision to maintain the current single system. IBT currently represents about 2,200 pilots for Frontier, RAH, and RAH’s subsidiaries Chautauqua Airlines, Republic Airlines, and Shuttle America.
Pastors and students from across central Mississippi are supporting union organization at a Nissan Motor Co. plant in Canton, Miss. With UAW backing, organizers have been handing out leaflets supporting the labor movement at churches, auto industry events, and outside Nissan dealerships. Meanwhile, the UAW has requested the U.S. State Department, pursuant to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines, to help mediate allegations that Nissan resisted workers’ efforts to organize the Canton plant. The OECD guidelines have been adopted by 44 countries, including the U.S., and provide standards for multinational companies, including the rights of workers to unionize. The State Department has three months to decide whether it will mediate the dispute.