In a rather unsurprising announcement last week, the National Labor Relations Board’s Office of the General Counsel–which is headed by the former general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers, Richard Griffin–chose to dismiss VW employees’ allegations that the United Auto Workers and VW, through its German union, had violated the rights of VW’s employees in Chattanooga.
Given the union attorneys who comprise the decision-making core of Barack Obama’s NLRB, the decision itself was not surprising in the least.
However, the fact that the agency chose, according to some sources, to release its decision to the press before the parties involved were notified does seem rather odd.
As a result, the Chattanooga Free Times Press had the story before the actual employees, or their attorneys, who filed the charges received the news from the NLRB.
Nevertheless, the NLRB’s so-called “Advice Memorandums” (full copes below) are chock full of examples of just how far the NLRB will go to help unionize workers on behalf of unions.
The NLRB decided that the UAW did not violate the law when it misled VW employees in getting signed union authorization cards.
Via the Times Free Press:
The NLRB found that the UAW did not run afoul of the law when it claimed it had a majority of signatures of hourly employees on cards requesting the workers’ permission to represent them. The NLRB determined the UAW didn’t violate the law in its solicitation or handling of the authorization cards.
Indeed, the NLRB stated:
Assuming, arguendo, the truth of the Charging Parties’ factual assertions regarding the solicitation of the authorization cards, i.e., that the Union made misrepresentations when soliciting authorization cards, and is relying on ambiguous authorization cards and cards that were signed more than a year before the Union claimed majority status, these assertions do not establish a violation of the Act. [Emphasis added.]
In this case, the NLRB’s dismissal is yet another example of the NLRB’s long-standing precedent allowing unions to mislead workers into signing union authorization cards.
Of perhaps greater note, though, is the NLRB’s dismissal of the charges that German union officials unlawfully threatened employees with the loss of future work if they did not have representation on VW’s Works Council.
In response to the charge that employees were threatened, the NLRB went to great lengths to find a way to argue that VW America is not controlled in any way, shape or form by its corporate bosses in Germany–despite the fact that:
- The German union sits on VW’s Board of Directors
- The German union helps decide where to invest in new manufacturing and products (i.e., in Chattanooga or elsewhere)
- The labor relations policies of all of its subsidiaries are determined in Germany (by and with the German union bosses)
- In subordination to the company’s labor relations policies, supervisors in the U.S. have been placed under a gag order and not allowed to share their opinions with employees (presumably under the threat of termination)
- …And the German union bosses visited the U.S. plant to talk to the Chattanooga employees (who were paid by the company to listen)…as recently as two weeks ago.
Yet, all of these things were overlooked by the NLRB–rather conveniently.
According to the NLRB, Volkswagen in Germany and Volkswagen in America are separate legal entities and, therefore, the German union officials are not the “Employer” or agents of the employer.
As a result, the German union officials threatening statements really don’t count, according to the NLRB [see pages 10 & 11]:
Here, if Wolf’s June statement or Osterloh’s October statement indicated that future expansion of the Chattanooga facility might be conditioned on the employees’ representational status, such a message would be contrary to the Employer’s consistently repeated statements that the decision on unionization, and on forming a works council, was entirely up to its employees. Thus, employees would not reasonably believe that Wolf or Osterloh was reflecting the Employer’s policy or speaking and acting on behalf of the Employer.
Unsurprisingly, in its biased rationalization, the NLRB also fails to acknowledge that the German officials threatened the employees prior to the Company stating that additional work would not be contingent on how employees’ exercising their rights.
Those company (and union assertions) did not come until after charges had been filed with the National Labor Relations Board and Volkswagen and its German union bosses knew they had stepped over the line.
In the face of the NLRB’s dismissal, the employees who filed the charges vow to appeal:
One of the employees involved in the allegations, Mike Burton, said he’s disappointed in the National Labor Relations Board’s recommendation.
“I am disappointed that the NLRB chose to ignore the obvious,” he said via text message. “Misrepresentation did occur. The charges were just one way to bring attention to the fact that the UAW uses methods that are not fair. We have over 600 signatures from hourly employees that do not want the UAW. The charges will be appealed.”
Despite the appeal, however, the UAW has already filed a petition to hold an election at the Chattanooga plant.
In the coming weeks, VW’s employees will be hearing more misinformation from the UAW and its German union friends that an outside union is the only way to have representation on VW’s Works Council–even though that is not true.
If, however, Volkswagen’s employees come to understand that they can form their own independent association (or “union”) without the UAW and vote “no,” the UAW will be gone from Chattanooga for at least a year, and the employees can determine their own future on the works council without Detroit meddling in their business.
Only time will tell.