Exclusive: GOP Senators Seek to Reinstate Secret Ballots for Unionization as Volkswagen Workers Vote on Joining UAW

CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE - MARCH 20: Volkswagens are seen in the employee parking lot at the
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

A group of Senate Republicans is seeking to reinstate secret ballots for unionization of workplaces in the United States as about 4,300 auto workers at Volkswagen’s Chatanooga, Tennessee plant decided whether to join the United Auto Workers (UAW).

Last year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) abandoned more than half a century of precedent where secret ballot elections were considered the standard for deciding whether workplaces sought union representation.

In a decision in August 2023, the NLRB used a prior precedent from the 1940s that workplaces can seek to be unionized without secret ballot certification. Instead, unions can declare majority support for unionization at a workplace through a so-called “card check” rather than a secret ballot.

Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) are introducing the “Protecting Workers from Coercion Act” to return to require the NLRB to impose secret ballots whenever a union seeks to represent a workplace.

The legislation comes as about 4,300 Volkswagen workers in Chatanooga vote this week on whether they want to join the UAW following the union’s historic contracts that it won following a strike against the Big Three — General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis — last year.

The UAW is making a big push for unionization to historically non-unionized auto plants across the American South following the contract wins in Detroit, Michigan. Those contracts include higher wages, an end to wage tiers, cost-of-living allowances, and a right to strike whenever the automakers seek to close plants in the U.S.

Blackburn told Breitbart News that the legislation is more important than ever, accusing “the Biden administration is teaming up with big unions to intimidate and undermine workers that are opposed to their far-left labor policies.”

“The UAW has an 88-year history of killing jobs and putting people out of work. Before workers are forced to consider joining a potentially harmful labor union, they should have the right to confidentially cast their ballot in private,” Blackburn said.

Likewise, the UAW announced this month that a supermajority of Mercedes-Benz workers in Tuscaloosa, Alabama want to join the union. The workers are hoping to hold a vote at the beginning of May.

“… the company keeps losing good people because they force them to work Saturdays at the last second, to take shifts that mess with their family lives,” one Mercedes-Benz worker told the UAW. “And the only choice people have is to take it or quit. With the union, we’ll have a voice for fair schedules that keep workers at Mercedes.”

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at jbinder@breitbart.com. Follow him on Twitter here.


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