In January 2014, the United Automobile Workers, Local 42 (“Local 42”) requested that Volkswagen voluntarily recognize the UAW without a vote of production and maintenance employees. Given Volkswagen’s commitment to providing its team members a voice, Volkswagen asked for an election so that employees could exercise their voice rather than being forced to unionize without a vote. As part of Volkswagen’s request for an election, the UAW and Volkswagen agreed that both sides would be neutral with regard to the election for one year. At its core, the neutrality agreement called for both the UAW and Volkswagen to communicate with team members in a “non-adversarial, positive manner” and to not make untruthful statements regarding one another. In order to police this commitment, the agreement also required each side to advise the other on its planned communication activities. The agreement also included Volkswagen providing the UAW far more access to the plant than the law requires: UAW organizers were allowed into the plant, were provided a dedicated room to speak with team members, and were allowed to speak directly to employees during an All-team meeting on paid work time.
On February 14, 2014, the majority of Volkswagen’s employees voted against joining Local 42 – 712 to 626. As part of the agreement, the UAW was barred from attempting to organize Volkswagen team members for one year.
After losing the election on behalf of the combined unit, Local 42 requested on August 6, 2015 that Volkswagen recognize a bargaining unit of just maintenance employees and to do so again without a vote. After the Company declined to recognize the UAW without a vote, Local 42 moved forward with a second election petition on October 23, 2015. Unlike in 2014, Local 42 sought to represent only the maintenance employees. Volkswagen, however, reiterated its prior position that the only appropriate unit must also contain the production employees. Contrary to Volkswagen’s request, Region 10 of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) directed the election to proceed with only the maintenance employees. The election concluded on December 4, 2015 with the majority of maintenance employees voting to be represented by Local 42 – 108 to 44.
After the maintenance-only election for Local 42, Volkswagen maintained its position that the only appropriate unit must contain production and maintenance employees. There was an appropriate legal process to have that issue resolved, which Volkswagen followed. Meanwhile, before that legal issue could be resolved, on April 9, 2019, the UAW filed a petition for an election for both maintenance and production employees. The petition also included a request that Volkswagen once again recognize the UAW without a vote by production and maintenance employees.
In response, Volkswagen argued that the UAW’s petition was improper because the UAW did not wait for the maintenance election issue to be resolved first, which is what the law required. Volkswagen did not want to delay the election, but wanted to make sure the UAW was following the law concerning election petitions. The NLRB ultimately agreed that the UAW had not followed the proper legal process, and dismissed the UAW’s petition.
The NLRB dismissed the UAW’s argument that Volkswagen had improperly delayed the election, ruling instead that “any delay is solely due to [the Union’s] having filed its petition” prior to resolution of the maintenance-only unit issue. The UAW subsequently refiled the petition, and the NLRB has scheduled an election for June 12-14.
See NLRB information for this election proceeding: https://www.nlrb.gov/case/10-RC-239234