UAW drops Volkswagen union challenge

Officials at the United Auto Workers (UAW) are abandoning their challenge of a failed union vote at a Volkswagen facility in Tennessee.

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The UAW alleges that politicians, including Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R), tried to intimidate the Volkswagen workers into rejecting union representation.

But the union said Monday it is withdrawing its appeal of the vote at the National Labor Relation Board (NLRB) to protect the interests of employees at the Chattanooga facility, effectively letting the final result stand.

"The UAW is ready to put February's tainted election in the rearview mirror and instead focus on advocating for new jobs and economic investment in Chattanooga," said UAW President Bob King in a statement.

King and the UAW said an election would have been pointless, because it would have only allowed the same "extreme intimidation and interference" to occur.

"Even if the NLRB ordered a new election — the board's only available remedy under current law — nothing would stop politicians and anti-union organizations from again interfering," the UAW wrote in a press release.

Experts were split on whether the NLRB could succeed in overturning the 712-626 vote against the UAW. Corker had warned the challenge could slow down discussions about a new Volkswagen SUV line in Chattanooga.

"It's a shame the UAW slowed the momentum on our expansion conversations with Volkswagen, but now it's time for VW, our state and our community to re-engage and move forward with bringing additional jobs to Chattanooga," Corker said Monday in statement.

Fellow Republican senator from Tennessee Lamar Alexander said it's time for the workers to move on and "get back to building cars."

“The employees have made their decision," Alexander said in a statement. "The UAW lost the election. Now the best thing for all concerned is to get back to building cars.”

The UAW's Tennessee director, Gary Casteel, said he hopes that dropping the union's appeal would convince Volkswagen to bring more jobs to the state. 

Before the union vote, Haslam's administration had offered Volkswagen nearly $300 million in incentives to build a new SUV line in Chattanooga, but the UAW alleged the offer was contingent on the plant not unionizing.

The UAW called for Haslam to provide the tax relief now that the appeal is being withdrawn.

"The UAW wants to help create quality jobs and build world-class products for American consumers," Casteel said. "With this in mind, we urge Gov. Haslam to immediately extend the incentives that previously were offered to Volkswagen for this new SUV line, and do so unconditionally."