The Low Post News

Tennessee Volkswagen Workers Reject UAW

Workers at a Tennessee Volkswagen factory voted on Friday against union representation resulting in a devastating loss for the United Auto Workers’ efforts to make new inroads in the southern part of the U.S.

The vote was 712 to 626 on Friday and for many labor experts and supporters of the union, was surprising as they expected the UAW would win since the union was tacitly endorsed by Volkswagen. The company even allowed union organizers into it factory in Chattanooga to makes their sales pitches.

The setback for UAW was a major defeat in their efforts to grow in the south, where automakers from overseas have opened 14 assembly plants, of which 8 have been within the last decade.

Organizing a plant in the south is crucial to Bob King the UAW President, who told workers during a speech that the UAW did not have a long term future if it could not organize in the south.

The loss by the UAW means it likely will remain in the Midwest and Northeast quarantined with the big three from Detroit.

Many have seen VW as the only chance the union had to gain a foothold within the south due to other automakers being unwelcoming.

Labor interests represent half of the VW supervisory board in Germany and have questioned why the plant in Chattanooga is just the only one without any formal representation for workers.

VW was looking for a “works council” which is Germany style in the plant to give its employees say in the working conditions.

VW said that the law in the U.S. would not allow that type of council without there being a union that is independent.

At the Chattanooga plant, stiff opposition faced the union from Republican politicians that warned a victory by the UAW would scare away other automakers thinking about coming to the area.

The opponent who was most vocal was Tennessee Senator Bob Corker who said he was told VW would build a new SUV at the factory if its workers rejected the proposed union.

An executive at VW later denied that. Other politicians had threatened to cut state incentives for the VW plant if the union received approval.

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