The United Auto Workers is officially seeking a new vote to represent the workers at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tenn., plant.
The union has long sought to represent the workers at the German automaker's sole U.S. plant, seeing it as a way of getting a foothold in the union-averse American south but lost a worker vote last year. This time, the union is seeking to represent just 165 members in the plant's maintenance department, not the entire factory.
The filing indicates that the union lacks the support to win over a majority of all workers, the usual standard for a workplace election, and is instead hoping to secure more limited recognition through those who do back it. The National Labor Relations Board, the main federal labor law enforcement agency, under President Obama's administration has adjusted its policy to allow such "micro-unions."
UAW indicated in a statement Friday that it still sought to represent all of the Chattanooga workers eventually. "A key objective for our local union always has been, and still is, moving toward collective bargaining for the purpose of reaching a multi-year contract between Volkswagen and employees in Chattanooga. We support our colleagues in the skilled trades as they move toward formal recognition of their unit," said Mike Cantrell, president of UAW Local 42, the union's branch in the region.
"We have said from the beginning of Local 42 that there are multiple paths to reach collective bargaining," Cantrell said. "We have been considering this option for some time. All options have been, and will remain, on the table."