Pocan, Kildee Call on Volkswagen to Negotiate First Contract with UAW
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) led a letter to Volkswagen Group of America President and CEO Christian Koch and Executive Vice President of Human Resources Sebastian Pata expressing disappointment in the company’s refusal to bargain with the skilled trades employees at the Chattanooga plant who voted overwhelmingly for a union.
Previously, Volkswagen had remained neutral in unionization votes. However, after the skilled unit voted to form a union in 2015, the company sought to invalidate the election. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reviewed the election results, and it found that the skilled trades employees were qualified to join their own union and had successfully voted to do so. Since the election, the company has been trying to overturn the NLRB’s decision via the courts.
“We do not believe it is in Volkswagen’s interest to prolong this fight against the skilled trades’ election results in court. It is definitely not in the interest of the workers,” Reps. Pocan and Kildee said. “Instead of forum shopping for a different outcome, we urge the company to recognize the workers’ right to form a union, comply with U.S. labor law, and begin collective bargaining with the UAW today.”
The letter was also signed by Reps. Alma Adams (D-NC), Pete Aguilar (D-CA), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Robert Brady (D-PA), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Judy Chu (D-CA), Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO), Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO), Steve Cohen (D-TN), John Conyers, Jr (D-MI), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Danny Davis (D-IL), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Elizabeth Etsy (D-CT), Bill Foster (D-IL), Lois Frankel (D-FL), John Garamendi (D-CA), Gene Green (D-TX), Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Sander Levin (D-MI), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Grace Meng (D-NY), Gwen S. Moore (D-WI), Patrick Murphy (D-FL), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Richard Nolan (D-MN), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), José Serrano (D-NY), Mark Takano (D-CA), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Peter Visclosky (D-IN), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), and John Yarmuth (D-KY).
The text of the letter is below and a signed copy can be found here.
Dear Mr. Koch and Mr. Patta,
As elected representatives of Americans from across the country who are deeply concerned about the future of collective bargaining rights as a matter of public policy, we write to express our support for all parties bargaining in good faith and ask that Volkswagen respect the rights of the skilled trades employees at the Volkswagen Chattanooga plant who have elected the United Autoworkers (UAW) to represent them. As a result of the company’s appeal, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reviewed the election results, and it found that the skilled trades employees were qualified to join their own union and had successfully voted to do so. In our opinion and as a matter of public policy, we believe that when labor and management bargain in good faith, the best outcomes are realized for all parties.
We are concerned the company has chosen such a tactic against the workers at your Chattanooga plant given the company’s global reputation for supporting and collaborating with its workers. From the beginning, Volkswagen objected to the skilled trades workers’ effort to form a union. Even after the workers won their election, the company challenged the results, which were certified a second time by the NLRB. Now that the company lost its appeal with the NLRB, you have stated your intent to pursue a different result in court. In response to the dilatory tactics, the NLRB issued an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) Complaint against Volkswagen on April 26, 2016 (10-CA-166500 and 10-CA-169340), charging the company with violating American law by failing to collectively bargain with the UAW on behalf of the skilled trades workers.
Given the serious nature of the issues involved in this matter and the potential impact they could have on relations between Germany and the United States, we ask that you respond to each of the concerns raised throughout this note. As practitioners of public policy, it’s critical for us to understand the circumstances that might lead some workers’ voices not to be heard.
# # #