By Bernie Woodall
Sat Feb 15, 2014
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (Reuters) - In a stinging defeat that could accelerate the decades-long decline of the United Auto Workers, Volkswagen AG workers voted against union representation at a Chattanooga, Tennessee plant, which had been seen as organized labor’s best chance to expand in the U.S. South.
The loss, 712 to 626, capped a sprint finish to a long race and was particularly surprising for UAW supporters, because Volkswagen had allowed the union access to the factory and officially stayed neutral on the vote, while other manufacturers have been hostile to organized labor.
UAW spent more than two years organizing and then called a snap election in an agreement with VW. German union IG Metall worked with the UAW to pressure VW to open its doors to organizers, but anti-union forces dropped a bombshell after the first of three days of voting.
Republican U.S. Senator Bob Corker, the former mayor of Chattanooga who helped win the VW plant, said on Wednesday after the first day of voting that VW would expand the factory if the union was rejected.
“Needless to say, I am thrilled,” Corker said in a statement after the results were disclosed.
National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix hailed the outcome: “If UAW union officials cannot win when the odds are so stacked in their favor, perhaps they should re-evaluate the product they are selling to workers.”
By Brent Snavely
Feb. 9, 2014 | lansingstatejournal.com
The UAW and its President Bob King could bring home the biggest victory for organized labor in decades
this week if workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn., plant vote to unionize — a possible first step in opening up the non-union South for organizing campaigns.
A UAW defeat, on the other hand, would be a brutal setback for an organization whose membership has dwindled from a peak of 1.5 million in 1979 to less than 400,000. A losing vote could threaten other campaigns under way at auto plants in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee and amplify a perception in some quarters that unions have outlived their time.
With such high stakes, the campaign in Chattanooga has turned the right-to-work state into a national union battleground. Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, both Republicans, have spoken out against the union. Volkswagen has not interfered and is already used to union-style representation at its plants.
“If they lose this vote, then it is going to set them back in a big way because this vote will be taken with a company that is not actively opposing them,” said Dennis Cuneo, a managing partner of pro-management law firm Fisher & Phillips. “If they win, they are going to have momentum as they go after similarly situated companies.”