CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Workers at a Volkswagen factory in Tennessee have voted against union representation, a devastating loss that derails the United Auto Workers union’s effort to organize Southern factories.
The 712-626 vote released late Friday stunned many labor experts who expected a UAW win because Volkswagen tacitly endorsed the union and even allowed organizers into the Chattanooga factory. But the union faced stern opposition from Republican politicians who warned that a union win would chase away other automakers from the South.
The UAW for decades has tried without success to organize a foreign-owned plant in the region, which is wary of organized labor. The loss now makes it even harder for the union to recruit members at another Southern factory, a key priority of outgoing UAW President Bob King. He has said in the past that the union has no long-term future if it can’t organize the Southern plants.