Volkswagen’s Chattanooga workers reject UAW representation

by Bart Sisk, David Jaqua, and Valeria Gomez

The votes are in, and the wait is over. In what can only be characterized as a major setback for organized labor, Volkswagen’s Chattanooga employees have voted to reject union representation by the United Auto Workers union (UAW).  

Eighty-nine percent of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga employees participated in the election, which was conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and took place on February 12-14. With 53 percent of workers voting against UAW representation, the union lost the election by a vote of 712-626. Through a press release issued by Volkswagen, Frank Fischer, CEO and chairman of Volkswagen Chattanooga, announced, “Our employees have not made a decision that they are against a works council. Throughout this process, we found great enthusiasm for the idea of an American-style works council both inside and outside our plant. Our goal continues to be to determine the best method for establishing a works council in accordance with the requirements of U.S. labor law to meet VW America’s production needs and serve our employees’ interests.”

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Tennessee’s “guns in trunks” law takes effect July 1

by Kara E. Shea

The Tennessee law giving handgun carry permit holders the right to transport and store firearms and/or ammunition in their vehicles parked in an employer’s parking lot goes into effect July 1. With the enforcement deadline at hand, employers understandably want to know whether they need to alter current “no weapons” policies that ban weapons on all parts of their property, including parking lots. Unfortunately, the answer remains uncertain, although a recent opinion from the state attorney general seems to indicate that you still may be able to enforce such policies.

To recap, the popularly dubbed “guns in trunks” bill was signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam on March 14 after it passed by a wide margin in both the Tennessee Senate and House of Representatives. Previous versions of the law faced resistance from the Tennessee business community last year, but it passed easily this year, helped along by provisions of the new bill stating that businesses won’t be liable for damages or injuries caused by firearms stored by employees on their premises in accordance with the new law.

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New Tennessee law prohibits local mandates on pay, benefits

by Kara Shea

On April 11, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed into law a bill prohibiting local governments from mandating health insurance benefits, leave policies, hourly wage standards, or prevailing wage standards that deviate from existing requirements of state and federal law as a condition of doing business with or within the jurisdiction of the local government.

The new law means that cities and towns in Tennessee may not establish prevailing wages higher than the federal minimum wage and/or state or federal prevailing wages. Any such local laws already on the books (e.g., the living wage ordinances enacted by Memphis and Shelby County a few years ago) are no longer enforceable.

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Tennessee House passes guns-in-cars bill

Update: On March 14, 2013, Governor Bill Haslam signed SB 0142, which allows person with a valid handgun carry permit to transport and store a firearm or firearm ammunition in the permit holder’s privately-owned motor vehicle in public or private parking areas under certain conditions. 

by Kara Shea and Sara Anne Quinn

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Tennessee Senate OK’s ‘guns in parking lots’ bill

Legislation giving handgun carry permit holders the right to keep guns in their vehicles in public parking lots, including their employer’s parking lot, passed the Tennessee Senate Monday evening, 28-5.

The bill, which will go to the House Civil Justice Subcommittee Wednesday afternoon, would give civil immunity to employers for deaths, injuries, or damage involving guns brought onto parking lots by employees. Under the bill, employers could continue to ban firearms for those without carry permits.

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New Tennessee unemployment law makes changes helpful to employers

By Kara E. Shea

Tennessee’s Unemployment Insurance Accountability Act, which takes effect September 1, amends the state’s unemployment statute in ways helpful to employers.

For instance, the new law defines what constitutes “making a reasonable effort to secure work” for the purposes of unemployment insurance eligibility. It specifies that “making a reasonable effort to secure work” means a claimant must provide detailed information about his contact with at least three employers per week or access services at a career center managed by the Tennessee Department of Labor (TDOL). Claimants providing false work information will be disqualified from benefits for a minimum of eight weeks.

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Categories: Tennessee

TN Governor Signs Bill on State and Local Antidiscrimination Standards

May 24, 2011 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Late Monday, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed into law House Bill (HB) 600, which prohibits Tennessee’s local governments from imposing on employers any antidiscrimination practices or standards that vary from those in state law.

Named the Equal Access to Interstate Commerce Act, the new law makes null and void any “practice, standard, definition, or provision” previously established by local ordinance or resolution. The practical effect is the nullification of a Nashville ordinance enacted in April that requires the city’s contractors and vendors to submit affidavits affirming that they don’t discriminate based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

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Nashville Council Passes Antidiscrimination Ordinance

April 06, 2011 - by: Holly Jones 0 COMMENTS

Nashville has joined more than 100 other localities across the nation that prohibit firms and contractors conducting business with the city from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Similar protections were granted to city employees in 2009, and Metro Council members voted 21-15 on Tuesday night to extend the ordinance to cover contractors, which now will be required to sign affidavits of compliance with the new rule.

Mayor Karl Dean has said that he will sign the bill; however, opposition to the new measure could still arise at the state level, as a bill prohibiting such local antidiscrimination measures is currently under debate in state legislative committees.

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Categories: Tennessee

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TN Senate: No Safety Penalty for Employers That Allow Guns at Work

March 01, 2011 - by: Holly Jones 0 COMMENTS

A bill rapidly making its way through the Tennessee Legislature would protect employers that opt not to restrict persons who are legally licensed to carry a handgun from bringing their weapons into the workplace.

On Monday, Senate Bill (SB) 519 passed almost unanimously (the lone dissenter was Democratic Senator Beverly Marrero of Memphis). The bill, the first measure introduced by Republican Senator Mike Bell of Riceville, states that an employer opting not to post notice that handguns are restricted on the workplace property has not created an occupational safety and health hazard to other employees on the premises.

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Categories: Tennessee


Tennessee: Delegation More Employer-Friendly

November 04, 2010 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

by John B. Phillips, Jr.

Tuesday’s election continues Tennessee’s move toward a solid-red Republican state:

  • In the governor’s race, Republican Bill Haslam won with an overwhelming majority, replacing two-term Democrat Phil Bredesen, who was prohibited from running for a third term.
  • It also appears that Tennessee Republicans will make gains in both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly, extending and increasing the Republican control of both state houses.
  • Tennessee’s congressional delegation will be made up of seven Republicans and two Democrats, a net gain of two seats for the GOP. (Both U.S. senators are Republicans, though neither was up for election this year.)

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