The National Labor Relations Board decided that some Volkswagen workers who oppose the United Auto Workers Union's efforts to get a new election should have a voice in the appeal process, despite protests from the union and VW.
VW officials have said that they do not think there is any basis for the workers who oppose the appeal to be able to participate in the objection process.
Last month, Volkswagen employees voted in a secret ballot election against UAW representation with a 712-626 vote.
But then, UAW leaders appealed that decision, citing interference from politicians, such as Gov. Bill Haslam, Sen. Bob Corker and Senate Speaker Pro Tem Bo Watson. So UAW leaders want another election.
In response to the UAW's appeal, two different groups of VW workers who oppose the idea of having another election filed motions with the NLRB asking that the election results be upheld and that they have a voice in the appeal process.
Those workers said they think VW's neutral stance means the voice of opposition to the UAW is lost.
Union lawyers have argued that the groups of employees who have asked to participate in the appeal and who want the election results to stand don't have the authority to be granted those wishes because they aren't part of a union.
According to the documents UAW leaders filed, union representatives argued that the group of workers and Southern Momentum—a nonprofit organization created to oppose the UAW Union—don't meet the standards set by NLRB rules to be able to intervene in the issue between the UAW and Volkswagen.
"[NLRB rules provide] that a motion to intervene is not proper when it is 'made by an employee or employee committees not purporting to be labor organizations,'" according to the documents UAW representatives filed.
UAW officials also argued that the NLRB should ignore Southern Momentum's allegations that UAW and VW officials have been colluding in a way that violates the National Labor Relations Act.
If that's what the allegations are, there are other ways of addressing them, but it isn't grounds for affecting the appeal process, according to the documents.
"Movants are free to allege [Volkswagen’s] unlawful support of the UAW in an unfair labor practice case, but they are precluded from intervening in this representation case," according to the documents.
But in the NLRB decision, Mary Bulls, acting regional director at the Atlanta NLRB office, wrote that the "unique circumstances" of this case that involved allegations of third-party misconduct weigh in favor of allowing the Volkswagen workers to have a voice during a hearing on the union's objections to the initial election.
According to Bulls:
In this unique case involving third-party misconduct, some of the alleged objectionable conduct involves statements made by employees who oppose representation by the union and the extent to which those statements could cause the election to be set aside. Thus, in situations such as this, where the rights of certain individual employees were implicated, the board has permitted those employees the right to participate in the hearing.
Specifically, employee-interveners and Southern Momentum contend that their participation in the postelection objections proceeding is necessary in order to ensure that a complete record is developed at the hearing concerning the issues raised by the union’s objections. Both the petitioner-employer and the union oppose the motions to intervene.
The NLRB document said that employee-interveners—those opposed to the UAW, such as members of Southern Momentum and their lawyers—will be allowed to participate in a hearing on the union's objections to the initial election results. They will be allowed to offer evidence in rebuttal to the union, cross-examine witnesses and file briefs.
The UAW could file an appeal in an attempt to overturn this decision.
Staff attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation, who helped some of the VW workers have a voice in this process, said they are happy about the decision.
"The decision over whether or not to unionize is supposed to lie with the workers, which makes the attempt by VW and the UAW to shut them out of this process all the more shameful," Patrick Semmens, vice president for public information with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, said in a prepared statement.