On December 14, the National Labor Relations Board certified the results of the UAW’s December 4 election victory (108 for the union, 44 against) for a skilled maintenance bargaining unit at Volkswagen's plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The plant has approximately 1,400 total production and maintenance workers, but the UAW focused on the "micro" unit of skilled maintenance workers after it lost an NLRB election in the overall plant group in February 2014. The micro-unit consists of only about 12 percent of the wall-to-wall bargaining unit that the UAW tried to represent in 2014.

After the UAW's "micro-victory," Volkswagen vowed to challenge the Board process and election results, and it appears to be doing so. On December 21, the UAW announced that it was filing an unfair labor practice charge against Volkswagen for refusing to bargain. It sounds as if Volkswagen may be intentionally engaging in a "technical refusal to bargain" as a tactic to get an "appeal" of the UAW victory. (The National Labor Relations Act does not contain a right of direct appeal in such a situation, so the typical way for an employer to be heard is to "draw" a charge of refusal to bargain.)

We expect the Board to rubber-stamp its Regional Director's actions in the election case and then for Volkswagen and the NLRB to file cross petitions for review and enforcement, respectively, in a federal appeals court. At this stage, Volkswagen's position has not been announced publicly, but we expect the company to argue that the micro-unit is inappropriate. This could be difficult: Volkswagen will probably have to convince a federal appeals court that the workers in the micro-unit share an overwhelming community of interest with the other plant workers.