NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — The United Auto Workers announced Monday it is withdrawing an appeal of the outcome of a union vote at Volkswagen’s assembly plant in Tennessee.
The vote against the UAW was a setback to the union’s goal of expanding into foreign-owned auto plants in the U.S., particularly those in the South.
In a statement released one hour before the scheduled start of a National Labor Relations Board hearing in Chattanooga, Tennessee, UAW President Bob King said the union decided to put the “tainted election in the rearview mirror” because the challenge could have taken months or even years to come to a conclusion.
The UAW had filed its appeal with the National Labor Relations Board after Volkswagen workers rejected the union in a 712-626 vote in February, arguing that public statements from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and other Republican officials raised fears about the plant’s future if workers there organized.
Documents also show Tennessee tied a $300 million incentive package to the satisfactory outcome of the labor situation at the plant.
Corker and Haslam filed motions fighting subpoenas from the union to produce documents and appear at the NLRB hearings.
“The unprecedented political interference by Gov. Haslam, Sen. Corker and others was a distraction for Volkswagen employees and a detour from achieving Tennessee’s economic priorities,” King said. “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.”
The UAW says it will now focus on a congressional investigation into an anti-unionization campaign by Republican politicians and outside groups.