Volkswagen workers in Tennessee reject UAW union representation

Nathan Andrada – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Chattanooga, TN, United States (4E) – Volkswagen factory workers in Tennessee rejected union representation in a vote that slammed the efforts of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union to make inroads in the U.S. South.

In a Chattanooga facility balloting that ended last Saturday, workers voted 712 to 626 against being represented by UAW, according to the union group. Politicians and outside groups aggressively campaigned against the UAW, cautioning employees that a vote favorable to the union would bring to Chattanooga the same economic woes Detroit currently faces and discourage investment in the state.

The result was a bitter loss since the union had the cooperation of the company’s management and the help of Germany’s influential IG Metall union, yet it still failed to sway the opinion of the majority of the factory’s 1,550 hourly workers.

Detroit-based labor lawyer Cliff Hammond said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that Chattanooga was an unusual case because companies typically fight union efforts. Volkswagen essentially had the vote gift-wrapped for the union and yet it still failed, Mr. Hammond adds.

Efforts by the UAW to recruit in the South particularly at foreign automakers and domestic manufacturers – companies that seek non-union labor, tax breaks and access to the U.S. markets — has been rebuffed.

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