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Senators query VW on union vote delay

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Three Democratic U.S. senators are expressing concerns about delays to an election over whether Volkswagen maintenance and production workers in Tennessee should unionize.

Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan sent a letter Tuesday to Scott Keogh,Volkswagen Group of America's chief executive.

It says any election delays further enable anti-union campaigns to target and intimidate workers.

Volkswagen says it's neutral on the possible Chattanooga unionization, respects the right to decide representation and will respond to the letter.

The senators question Volkswagen's neutrality, saying they've heard Chattanooga supervisors are having anti-union conversations with workers.

Earlier this month, the National Labor Relations Board indefinitely delayed election procedures in Chattanooga at Volkswagen's request.

The union, UAW International, argues Volkswagen is using legal games to obstruct Chattanooga workers' rights.

-- The Associated Press

Mechanics approve pact with Southwest

Southwest Airlines Co. mechanics on Tuesday approved a new contract that provides pay increases and a retroactive bonus, ending more than six years of negotiations that included a lawsuit and an alleged worker slowdown.

The five-year agreement won 95% support from the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, the union said Tuesday. About 94% of eligible voters participated.

The approval removes uncertainty for the airline over costs, and ends the threat of further flight disruptions less than three months after Southwest sued the union, alleging it deliberately slowed operations. The 2,700 mechanics are the last of Southwest's largest labor groups to secure a new contract since 2016, after pilots, flight attendants, baggage handlers and other airport ground workers.

The deal provides employees $160 million in retroactive pay as a ratification bonus, an immediate 20% raise effective April 1, and 3% annual increases each August, according to an earlier statement from the union and Southwest. The workers rejected a previous proposal in September.

-- Bloomberg News

Arkansas Index up 1 to end day at 421.43

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed Tuesday at 421.43, up 1 point.

Nine stocks rose, led by Uniti Group 4.40%.

"Stocks finished higher on Tuesday, as technology companies rallied after the United States temporarily eased curbs on China's Huawei Technologies," said Chris Harkins, managing director at Raymond James & Associates in Little Rock.

The index was developed by Bloomberg News and the Democrat-Gazette with a base value of 100 as of Dec. 30, 1997.

Business on 05/22/2019

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