| CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. Feb 14 In a stunning defeat
that could accelerate the decades-long decline of the United
Auto Workers, employees voted against union representation at
Volkswagen AG's Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant, a
factory seen as organized labor's best chance to expand in the
An official overseeing the vote, retired judge Sam Payne,
said that a majority had voted against UAW representation by 712
The plant's workers voted by paper ballot over the past
three days, with individual votes hand-counted after the
election closed at 8:30 pm ET on Friday.
The loss could further dent the prestige of the UAW, whose
membership has plummeted 75 percent since 1979 and now stands at
just under 400,000.
It also is likely to reinforce the widely held notion that
the UAW cannot make significant inroads in a region that
historically has been steadfastly against organized labor and
where all foreign-owned assembly plants employ nonunion workers.
The vote faced fierce resistance from local Republican
politicians and national conservative groups who warned that a
UAW victory could hurt economic growth in Tennessee. While
voting was under way on Wednesday, Republican U.S. Senator Bob
Corker said VW would announce new investment in the plant if the
UAW lost the secret ballot.
President Barack Obama waded into the discussion on Friday,
accusing Republican politicians who oppose unionization of being
more concerned about German shareholders than U.S. workers.
For VW, the stakes also are high. The German automaker
invested $1 billion in the Chattanooga plant, which began
building Passat mid-size sedans in April 2011, after being
awarded more than $577 million in state and local incentives.
VW executives have said a new seven-passenger crossover
vehicle, due in 2016 and known internally as CrossBlue, could be
built at either Chattanooga or Mexico.
An announcement on where the vehicle will be produced could
come as early as next week, VW sources said.