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U.S. labor board recommends dismissal of allegations against VW, UAW

DETROIT, Jan 23 (Reuters) - The general counsel office of the U.S. National Labor Relations Board has recommended that allegations brought by workers at the Volkswagen AG plant in Tennessee against VW and the United Auto Workers union be dismissed.

The recommendation is expected to be approved by the NLRB's director of the region that includes Tennessee. That means it is unlikely to rise to the level of a complaint to the five-member board that heads the NLRB, but the workers can appeal the recommendation.

Workers at the plant, assisted by the National Right to Work Foundation, filed charges last fall on two issues. Both were recommended for dismissal, according to "advice memorandums" from the NLRB's general counsel's office made public on Thursday.

Eight workers claimed that the UAW coerced them and misled them to sign cards approving the union's representation of them. Also, four workers alleged that VW, through a German union representative who sits on the company's supervisory board, threatened them by linking approval of the UAW as union representatives to future work at the plant.

The UAW is in talks with VW to represent the 1,550 workers at the Chattanooga plant. A deal would allow the union, which is struggling to gain members, with a toehold in the U.S. South where many foreign-owned auto plants are located.

The German union leader mentioned in one of the workers' allegations, Bernd Osterloh, said on Wednesday in Germany that any vote of workers at the plant to determine union representation would not be held until the NLRB issue was resolved.

"This is the outcome we expected," said Gary Casteel, UAW regional director for much of the U.S. Southeast, in a telephone interview on Thursday. "We knew we had not done anything wrong and this validates that," said Casteel.

He said the charges did not affect the UAW's efforts and that talks will continue with VW officials regarding representing Chattanooga workers.

Anthony Riedel, spokesman for the National Right to Work Foundation, said he could not say whether the workers will appeal the recommendation but added that the foundation would continue to assist them in trying to keep the UAW out of the Chattanooga plant.

Mark Mix, president of the foundation, said, "We are disappointed, but hardly shocked, with the Obama NLRB's recommendation."