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In Bid For Revote, Union Claims Tennessee Officials Frightened Workers

Publication Date: 
April 07, 2014
The New York Times
Steven Greenhouse

The New York Times quotes Professor William Gould on how the First Amendment affects unionization and its opponents. 

The United Automobile Workers has seized on leaked documents from Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee in its efforts to persuade the National Labor Relations Board to order a new unionization election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga.

The union, which lost a vote in February, plans to argue in a hearing later this month that Mr. Haslam and Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, both Republicans, frightened VW workers at the plant with anti-union statements that made a fair vote impossible. The board’s director for the region that includes much of the Southeast has set the hearing for April 21.


William B. Gould IV, an N.L.R.B. chairman under President Bill Clinton and a onetime lawyer for the U.A.W., said, “There is this longstanding tension between the First Amendment and the fact that the law prohibits certain types of threats and promises.” He referred to a 2011 case in which the labor board’s general counsel enraged politicians across the South by accusing Boeing of illegally retaliating against unionized workers in Washington State by opening a production line in South Carolina. This could make the Boeing case “look like small potatoes,” he said.