If Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam opposed the UAW’s organizing at Volkswagen last year, now — in his view — the timing is even worse. The United Auto Workers union has scheduled an official NLRB election next week for a group of 164 skilled maintenance workers.
These would be some of the same hourly employees who narrowly rejected UAW representation in February of 2014. At that time, Volkswagen wasn’t under worldwide scrutiny for rigging its diesel engines to fool environmental regulators.
Governor Haslam, who has never been a fan of the Detroit-based union, says it should let VW get beyond the current mess.
“The timing doesn’t seem very great. Obviously Volkswagen is struggling with a lot of issues right now," Haslam said Tuesday. “While there’s obviously a time for that discussion, it doesn’t seem like this is the appropriate time."
The UAW kept up a local presence, even after the failed vote. Under a labor policy unique to Volkswagen, the union already represents many workers on what is known as a works council. This arrangement does not allow the UAW to bargain for a pay and benefits contract, which is the union's ultimate goal.
The UAW officials have rejected claims that they’re trying to take advantage of a company that’s in trouble.
“We have said from the beginning of Local 42 that there are multiple paths to reach collective bargaining,” president Mike Cantrell said in a statement. “We have been considering this option for some time. All options have been, and will remain, on the table.”