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Monday, February 24, 2014

Union Appeals Vote At Tennessee VW Plant

The United Auto Workers (UAW) union is appealing the vote that didn’t go its way at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The union has asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to look into the vote that resulted in a close split, 712 to 626, against UAW representation.

The UAW maintains that interference by Republican Sen. Bob Corker and other politicians swayed the vote by saying the plant would get more projects if it voted not to unionize.

Corker responded with a statement on Friday, saying:

The workers at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen plant spoke very clearly last week, so we are disappointed the UAW is ignoring their decision and has filed this objection. Unfortunately, I have to assume that today’s action may slow down Volkswagen’s final discussions on the new SUV line. This complaint affirms the point many of us have been making: that the UAW is only interested in its own survival and not the interests of the great employees at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen facility nor the company for which they work.

Bob King, president of the UAW, joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to make his case.

Interview Highlights: Bob King

On the importance of unionizing foreign auto companies

“In today’s world, whether auto industry jobs are going to be decent middle class jobs depends on the workers in those facilities across this country — and we’re even working on globally — but workers standing together. The only way that auto workers got the pay that they did, the vacations, the retirement, the holidays, the healthcare benefits, was because they used their collective voice… The only way that the American auto industry is going to stay a middle class-creating industry is if workers come together.”

On shrinking union membership

“What’s exciting to me and what’s positive to me is America’s waking up to the tremendous inequality in income and wealth in this country. And more and more people are understanding without a strong labor movement, you don’t have a strong middle class. People understand that when we bargain for better wages or healthcare or vacations or holidays that not only do union members benefit but so do nonunion members because that then became a standard in the community.”


  • Bob King, president of the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, better known as the United Auto Workers. He tweets @UAWPresident.

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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