Press Releases

Statement by CWA following the union representation vote at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, TN

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Washington, D.C. -- VW employees in Chattanooga have every right to support or oppose their own collective bargaining rights.  The narrow loss in the National Labor Relations Board election Friday would have been just an issue of working Americans exercising their rights if it were not for the despicable interference of Senator Corker, Governor Haslam, Republican state legislators and outsiders like Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers.

Corker’s behavior is particularly outrageous. Four years ago Corker opposed President Obama's plan to rescue the auto industry and General Motors, despite the fact that a large GM assembly plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., was a critical part of the economy for thousands of working families. That plant is now thriving with 2,000 new jobs, thanks to cooperation between GM and the United Auto Workers.  Last week, on the eve of the NLRB vote, Corker proclaimed that a new VW product would be built in Chattanooga if workers voted against union representation.  We should all demand that the Senator prove that assertion since he set the stage for workers to choose between representation and participation and having work in the years ahead.  The Governor and state legislative leaders took the “stick approach” and said there would be no new incentives for VW if the workers voted for the union.

These officials will claim that they have free speech rights, whether they are lying or not, or even when they’re engaging in blatant extortion.  

Chattanooga is the new Madison, Wisconsin.  All of us must realize that this kind of pressure from elected officials is unprecedented from the time the right to organize was adopted in 1935.  The National Labor Relations Act states that the purpose of the law is to "promote collective bargaining." 

Now, all of us in CWA must use our free speech rights and other rights to answer back.  We cannot sit back and let Corker and his right wing cronies have the last word.  The great German union I G Metall understood, in supporting organizing rights in Chattanooga, that we all have an obligation to do so.  Organizing is a human and civil right in virtually every global democracy except the US.  We applaud I G Metall as well as the neutrality of VW management.  It is a sad day in our history that these politicians were able to interfere with workers’ basic rights. Now we must call on all of our allies to Stand Up and Fight Back.


Contact Candice Johnson, CWA Communications, cjohnson@cwa-union.org