UAW Accuses Volkswagen, Hyundai, Honda of Union Busting (1)

The United Auto Workers union has filed federal labor complaints against Volkswagen AG, Honda Motor Co. Ltd, and Hyundai Motor Co. for allegedly violating workers’ rights as it tries to unionize domestic operations.

The union says that Volkswagen violated workers’ labor rights at a Tennessee plant by prohibiting union discussions and the distribution of union materials, according to the unfair labor practice charge. The labor group filed a similar complaint against Hyundai, alleging that the company polled workers at a Montgomery, Ala., plant on their union support.

A separate charge accuses Honda of imposing “more onerous production standards” and using quality evaluations at a plant in Greensburg, Ind., to retaliate against workers who support a union.

The complaints mark a contentious start for the UAW’s effort to unionize foreign-owned auto plants in the wake of new agreements with Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., and Stellantis N.V. Unfair labor practice charges are evaluated by the US National Labor Relations Board, which investigates and prosecutes claims it deems credible.

“Nonunion auto workers aren’t stupid. They know they’re getting a raw deal,” UAW President Shawn Fain said in a Facebook Live presentation. “They’re writing in saying their companies had record profits just like the Big Three and they’d like record contracts. By the time we were on strike, letters started pouring in by the hundreds.”

Spokespeople for Honda and Hyundai didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

In a statement, Volkswagen spokesman Cameron Batten said the company “respects our workers’ right to determine who should represent their interests in the workplace,” adding that leaders “take claims like this very seriously and will investigate accordingly.”

The UAW says it has signed up more than 1,000 workers at the Tennessee plant, which exceeds the 30% threshold required to request an election. The union has said it wants at least 70%, however, before requesting recognition from the companies.

David Welch of Bloomberg News contributed to this report.