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VW workers in Tennessee vote against joining UAW

UAW lost its effort to organize workers at the VW plant in Chattanooga 712-626.
UAW lost its effort to organize workers at the VW plant in Chattanooga 712-626.
Yahoo Images/file photo

Workers at the VW plant in Chattanooga have voted against joining the United Auto Works Union 712-626 following three days of intense campaigning by those for and against the action, although they did say they would remain open to a “German-style woks council.”

"You had a lot of third-party organizations really campaigning hard against the union," stated Joseph Farelli, a lawyer with the New York firm of Pitta & Giblin LLP who represents labor unions. “Despite a tough push, the UAW underestimated strong cultural, anti-union sentiment in Tennessee and the hard campaigning that was going to be done by these outside entities, which included Governor Bill Haslam and Senator Bob Corker, both Republicans.”

In fact, Corker stated that a vote against the UAW would “guarantee that Volkswagen would assemble a new seven-passenger crossover vehicle in Chattanooga,” although he was contradicted by Frank Fischer, chairman and chief executive officer of Volkswagen Chattanooga, who told the workers that the vote would have no influence on where the new SUVs would be built. He also said that executives at Volkswagen had no objections to the Union’s attempt to organize workers at the plant which began production at the site of a former army ammunitions factory in 2011.

A number of those opposed to joining the union also cited that they were “suspicious” over the fact that all the auto plants that closed in the north were all aligned with the UAW, and that any possible deal between VW and the UAW could have resulted in “cost containment agreements” that would have cut their salaries.

While the Union looks to recoup from their loss as it looks to sign up workers at a Daimler AG factory in Vance, Al as well as other foreign automakers who have come to the southern US, the Bureau of Labor Statics reported that . The total of U.S. workers who are union members fell to 11.3% in 2013, and now stands at less than 400,000 nationwide (75% less than in 1979).