News reports indicate that United Auto Workers (UAW) officials are once again targeting Volkswagen employees for unionization notwithstanding being repeatedly rejected by those employees in secret ballot elections. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is issuing this special notice to let Volkswagen employees know of a legal development that could significantly impact their legal rights: UAW officials can now impose their monopoly representation on Volkswagen employees without allowing them to vote in a secret-ballot election.

Workers should contact the Foundation right away for free legal aid, either by filling out this online request form or by calling 800-336-3600 toll-free.

In September 2023, the National Labor Relations Board issued a decision called Cemex Construction Materials Pacific, 372 NLRB No. 130 (2023) that upended decades of settled law. The Cemex decision allows unions, such as the UAW, to easily impose their representation on employees through so-called a “card check” campaign and without winning a secret-ballot election amongst employees.

“Card check” is a union organizing tactic in which a union becomes the monopoly representative of all employees in a unit—including employees who want nothing to do with the union—by collecting union authorization cards from a majority of employees in that unit (50% plus 1). Employees unionized under a card check are not allowed to vote on union representation in a secret-ballot election. However, prior to Cemex, employers could refuse to impose union representation on their workers based on a card check. That is why, in the past, Volkswagen employees were allowed to vote on (and reject) UAW representation.

This changed under the Board’s decision in Cemex. Under Cemex, if the UAW claims that a majority of employees signed authorization cards in support of the union, within two weeks Volkswagen must either:

  1. Recognize the UAW as the monopoly representative of Volkswagen employees without allowing them to vote on union representation in a secret ballot election;
  2. Refuse to recognize the UAW, in which case the UAW can have the NLRB seek to impose UAW representation on Volkswagen employees without an election; or
  3. Request the NLRB hold an election. However, if the UAW accuses Volkswagen of committing certain unfair labor practices and the NLRB accepts those accusations, the NLRB will not hold an election, or nullify the results of any election already held, and seek to compel Volkswagen employees to accept monopoly UAW representation. The UAW is already laying the groundwork for cancelling or nullifying a secret ballot election by filing unfair labor practice charges against Volkswagen.

Due to Cemex, Volkswagen employees who do not want to be subject to UAW representation must be vigilant about their rights. If the UAW can collect authorization cards from a bare majority of Volkswagen workers, the UAW can impose itself on Volkswagen employees quickly and without them being able to vote on whether they actually want union representation.

Consequently, if you are a Volkswagen employee and oppose union representation, you should know that you have the following rights or options:


  • You have a right to not sign a union authorization card.


    1. It is completely up to you whether to sign or not sign a union authorization card. It is unlawful for the UAW to threaten or coerce any employee to sign a union authorization card, or to misrepresent the purpose of that card.

However, you should also beware that false union promises and propaganda will generally not invalidate a signature on an authorization card. It is a good practice to read carefully the language of any union card before signing it.


    1. You have a legal right to revoke any union authorization card you have signed. You may revoke any union authorization card you have signed by signing a letter, card, petition, or other document stating that you oppose the union. This statement of opposition will cancel out any union authorization card that you earlier signed. It is illegal for a union to restrict your right to revoke a union authorization card that you signed.If you choose to revoke a UAW authorization card, it is a good practice to inform both the union and your employer in writing that you revoked the card so that the union and your employer do not wrongfully count you as a supporter of union representation during a card check. A Sample Letter Revoking an Authorization Card can be found here.


    1. You have a legal right to campaign against the union and circulate petitions against union representation. You have the legal right to campaign against union representation if you choose, provided that it is done on non-work time (such as during work breaks) and in non-work locations (such as in break rooms, lunch rooms or parking lots). Volkswagen cannot discriminate or retaliate against employees based on their support or opposition to union representation.You have the legal right to sign and circulate cards or petitions against union representation, on non-work time and in non-work areas. If you oppose UAW representation, signing and circulating such a petition is an effective way to exercise your legal right to refrain from union representation. Click here to see a Sample Petition.If you choose to circulate a petition against union representation, it is a good practice to periodically provide a copy of that petition to your employer. This will provide the employer with evidence to contest a UAW claim of majority support if a union demands recognition based on authorization cards it collected from employees. If you have questions about the process, please feel free to ask the Foundation for legal aid.


  1. You can contact the Foundation free legal information. If you have questions about your rights during a union organizing campaign, you can contact Foundation staff attorneys for more information and assistance with exercising your rights.For example, if you are threatened with unwanted union representation, or were recently forced to accept unwanted union representation, you can contact the Foundation for more information about your legal options. The new union organizing process created in Cemex could be illegal and will be subject to legal challenges. Employees who are unionized without a secret-ballot election under Cemex may have legal options available to them and can contact the Foundation for more information about those legal options.If you have witnessed potential union misconduct during an organizing campaign, such as union agents coercing or misleading employees to sign union authorization cards, you can contact Foundation staff attorneys to discuss your legal options.