NRTW Submits FOIA to Uncover Dealings between Department of Labor and German Union during VW Unionization Drive
Freedom of Information Act request seeks to shed light on German labor organizations’ involvement in the UAW’s Chattanooga unionization push
Washington, DC (January 15, 2015) – Today, the National Right to Work Foundation, a charitable organization that provides free legal assistance to thousands of workers nationwide, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Labor to uncover any communication between the Department and two German labor organizations regarding the ongoing unionization campaign at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga facilities.
Foundation staff attorneys assisted several workers who were subjected to coercive card check unionization tactics and pressure from management and union organizers during the United Auto Workers (UAW) union's multi-year campaign to unionize VW’s Chattanooga plant. The Foundation also helped several VW workers file a federal suit challenging the company's assistance to UAW officials during the campaign as an illegal exchange of "thing[s] of value" under the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA).
VW’s Global Works Council and IG Metall, a German autoworker union, were both prominent supporters of the UAW’s organizing drive. However, neither organization divulged the extent of their involvement in Chattanooga to the Department of Labor, despite the fact that their high-profile support for the UAW should have triggered disclosure requirements under the LMRA.
Although a majority of Chattanooga workers voted against the UAW in a secret ballot election last February, the UAW and its German backers have continued to push for unionization. Furthermore, UAW officials have refused to abide by an agreement they signed with VW not to engage in organizing activities at the facility for one year if workers voted against them.
In November 2014, Foundation President Mark Mix submitted a letter to Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez calling on the Department of Labor to require both German labor organizations to comply with American labor law and disclose their relationship with the UAW. To date, Mix’s letter has received no substantive response and there is no record of either organization filing the mandated disclosure reports.
The Foundation’s FOIA request seeks to uncover any communications between the Department of Labor, VW’s Global Works Council, and the IG Metall union. Foundation staff attorneys hope to determine if the Department of Labor is actively assisting these organizations in their efforts to unionize VW’s Chattanooga facilities.
“German labor organizations shouldn’t be exempt from American disclosure guidelines when they operate in the United States,” said Mix. “Did the UAW make promises to IG Metall to obtain its support that could affect the wages and working conditions of VW Chattanooga employees down the road? Is the Department of Labor actively supporting the UAW and IG Metall’s efforts to unionize the Chattanooga plant? Chattanooga VW workers facing the prospect of another unionization drive deserve to know the answers to these questions, which is why we filed this FOIA request.”