DETROIT—German automaker Volkswagen on Thursday said it was challenging an order from U.S. labor regulators to open negotiations with unionized workers in Tennessee.
The move came after the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Volkswagen had illegally refused to negotiate with maintenance workers at a Chattanooga assembly plant after they voted in December to join the United Automobile Workers.
In a statement, Volkswagen said it believed all the plant's workers, not simply its maintenance employees, should be able to decide on whether to organize.
"This is why we disagree with the decision to separate Volkswagen maintenance and production workers and will continue our effort to allow everyone to vote as one group on the matter of union representation," the statement said, noting that the company had lodged an appeal in a federal appeals court in Washington.
The UAW lost a plant-wide vote on union representation in 2014.
The December vote by maintenance workers was the first time employees had chosen to organize at a foreign-owned auto plant in the southeast US, where organized labor has long struggled to make inroads.
In its August 26 decision, the NLRB found that Volkswagen Group of America's refusal to negotiate was an "unlawful failure" to bargain with a certified union and ordered the company begin negotiations with the maintenance workers.
"This unanimous decision makes it clear that the company has been operating in violation of federal law by refusing to come to the bargaining table," UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel said in a statement.
The NLRB order comes at a difficult time for Volkswagen, which is struggling to resolve criminal and civil allegations stemming from its emissions cheating scandal. Volkswagen has admitted to configuring millions of diesel vehicles around the word to defeat emissions testing.
US sales for Volkswagen fell 9.1% in 29,384 units in August, leaving sales in the first eight months of the year down 13% over the same period in 2015.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2016