Chattanooga, TN, United States (4E) – Workers at Volkswagen AG’s assembly plant in Tennessee have voted against forming a German-style works council and joining the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.
Friday’s 712 to 626 vote rejecting union representation was a reversal of the plant workers’ earlier intent to join UAW. The group presented in September union cards signed by majority of the four-year-old plant’s workers.
The rejection also derailed UAW’s efforts to unionize foreign automakers and stress its declining influence the past four decades.
UAW President Bob King was disappointed with the results of the vote while UAW Region 8 Director Gary Casteel, who directs the union’s Southern organizing, blamed politically motivated third parties for the workers’ decision. Well-funded conservative groups campaigned to convince workers to reject the UAW. Republicans were against joining the UAW fearing it would slow down economic growth.
Gov. Bill Haslam was pleased with the outcome of the vote, according to his spokesman Dave Smith.
VW Chattanooga CEO Frank Fischer clarified that employees are not opposed to a German-style works council. The company even endorsed the idea and did not hire anti-union consultants nor make presentations urging workers to oppose a union.
Wooing the VW plant workers was the first attempt of UAW in 13 years to unionize a plant not run by one of the three big U.S. carmakers namely General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler.