Legal Fight | Union launches lawsuit against vehicle makers amid claims of 'aggressive' anti-union campaigns

Union launches lawsuit against vehicle makers amid claims of 'aggressive' anti-union campaigns

The United Auto Workers union has filed unfair labor practice charges against Honda, Hyundai and Volkswagen, citing aggressive anti-union campaigns to deter workers from organizing.

The union's filings with the National Labor Relations Board and a video address Monday evening by UAW President Shawn Fain are the latest steps by the union to draw attention to its effort to organize workers at Tesla and foreign-owned U.S. auto plants, according to Reuter.

In his video address, Fain said UAW faces challenges organizing at employers that have successfully resisted the union for decades. The UAW wants to see support from 70% of a plant's workforce before pushing for an organizing vote, Fain said.

Fain said he met last week with workers at Toyota Motor's Georgetown, Kentucky assembly plant. The UAW president said no single company is the union's first priority. "They're all the target," he said.

"We will use every tool in our tool box" to overcome company opposition to unionization efforts, Fain said.

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The UAW said last month it was launching a first-of-its-kind push to publicly organize the entire nonunion auto sector in the U.S. after winning new record contracts with the Detroit Three automakers.

Last week, the UAW said more than 1,000 factory workers at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee, assembly plant have signed union authorization cards, or more than 30% of workers.

The UAW filed charges over actions by Honda in Indiana, Hyundai in Alabama, and Volkswagen in Tennessee.

A Honda worker said management illegally told workers to remove union stickers from hats, the UAW said. Hyundai illegally polled employees about their support for the UAW and confiscated union materials and barred their distribution in non-work areas, the union charged.

Honda said in a statement it "encourages our associates to engage and get information on this issue. We have not and would not interfere with our associates’ right to engage in activity supporting or opposing the UAW."

Hyundai said employees in Alabama "may choose to join a union or not as is their legal right, and this has been true since our plant opened in 2005... The union’s characterization of events in its press statement do not present an accurate picture."

The UAW said Volkswagen threatened and coerced employees "from exercising rights to engage in protected activity by prohibiting employees from discussing unionization during working time and restricting employees from distributing union materials."

Volkswagen said on Monday it "respects our workers' right to determine who should represent their interests in the workplace... We take claims like this very seriously and will investigate accordingly."

The Detroit-based UAW said last month workers at 13 nonunion automakers were announcing simultaneous campaigns across the country to join the union, including at Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, Honda, Hyundai, Rivian, Nissan, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

The UAW's deals with General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis included an immediate 11% pay hike and 25% increase in base wages through 2028, cuts the time needed to reach top pay to three years from eight years. Many foreign automakers have recently boosted pay and benefits in response.

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