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Second group files to keep UAW from reversing VW plant vote

A general view of the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga,Tennessee February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Christopher Aluka Berry
A general view of the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga,Tennessee February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Christopher Aluka Berry

By Bernie Woodall

(Reuters) - An anti-union group representing workers at Volkswagen AG's Chattanooga, Tennessee plant on Friday moved to undercut a United Auto Workers challenge of an election in which the union failed to organize the factory, the second such action this week.

Southern Momentum, an anti-UAW group overseen by a Chattanooga attorney, filed to intervene in the UAW's objection to the election results to the National Labor Relations Board.

In their petition to the NLRB, the workers asked to intervene in the UAW's appeal, saying the union and VW are in collusion to bring unionization to the Chattanooga plant.

The NLRB will consider the UAW's appeal of the February 12-14 election, which the union lost by a 712-626 vote. The union claimed in its objection to the vote that outside interference and what it characterized as intimidation led by politicians such as Republican U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee improperly influenced worker-voters.

A news release from Southern Momentum said that if Volkswagen officials do not respond to the UAW's objection, which the group said appears to be the case, then "appropriate arguments against the objections and in favor of upholding the election results may not be presented."

Similar wording was included in a petition filed on Tuesday by the National Right to Work Foundation and five anti-UAW workers at the plant, also seeking to be heard by the NLRB when it considers the UAW's objections to the election.

The UAW has until March 7 to present evidence to the NLRB's regional headquarters in Atlanta backing up its case.

Southern Momentum was established as a non-profit group last month in order to represent workers opposing UAW representation at the Chattanooga VW plant.

Maury Nicely, a pro-management labor attorney based in Chattanooga, represents the group.

Nicely said in an interview earlier this month that he led fundraising for Southern Momentum, which in late January and early February raised money "in the low six figures" from Chattanooga area businesses and individuals.

Nicely said the money was not raised by anti-UAW workers at the plant. He said the funds paid for anti-UAW T-shirts and fliers handed out by workers at the plant, as well as local newspaper advertisements.

Nicely said the Southern Momentum group is "on a parallel track" with the National Right to Work Foundation but said the two groups are not working together.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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