The United Automobile Workers union accused three foreign automakers on Monday of unfair labor practices, asserting that they had interfered with efforts by employees to build support for the union at U.S. plants.
The union said it had filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board contending that the automakers — Honda, Hyundai and Volkswagen — had tried to prevent workers from discussing U.A.W. representation at work and that the companies had discriminated against those who had done so.
The action came two weeks after the U.A.W. announced an effort to organize nonunion plants owned by 10 foreign-owned companies, along with the domestic manufacturers Tesla and Rivian, which make electric vehicles. The union has tried unsuccessfully to unionize some of those companies’ factories in recent years, but not simultaneously on such a wide scale.
The U.A.W. said Monday that hundreds of workers at Honda’s plant in Greensburg, Ind., and at Hyundai’s plant in Montgomery, Ala., and more than 1,000 workers at a Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, Tenn., had signed cards expressing support for joining the union.
At Honda, the union said, workers “report being targeted and surveilled by management for pro-union activity,” while at Hyundai, “management has unlawfully confiscated, destroyed, and prohibited pro-union materials in nonwork areas during nonwork times.”
It said that Volkswagen “had harassed and threatened workers for talking about the union” and that it had “confiscated and destroyed pro-union materials in the break room,” among other accusations.
In a statement, Volkswagen said that it took such accusations seriously and that it would investigate the matter. “Volkswagen respects our workers’ right to determine who should represent their interests in the workplace,” it said. “We are committed to providing clear, transparent, and timely information that helps educate our employees and managers on their legal rights and obligations.”
Honda and Hyundai did not immediately respond to requests for comment. When the U.A.W. announced its organizing campaign last week, both automakers cited their wage and benefit packages as advantageous and said union representation was unwarranted.
Shawn Fain, the U.A.W. president, lashed out at the three companies in a statement issued by the union. “These companies are breaking the law in an attempt to get autoworkers to sit down and shut up instead of fighting for their fair share,” he said. “But these workers are showing management that they won’t be intimidated out of their right to speak up and organize for a better life.”
The U.A.W. is trying to organize foreign-owned plants after a six-week wave of strikes against the three Detroit automakers — Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, which makes Jeep, Chrysler and other brands — that resulted in contracts providing record wage increases and additional gains in benefits.
In addition to Honda, Hyundai and Volkswagen, the foreign companies that the U.A.W. said last week that it was targeting are Toyota, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Mazda and Volvo.