CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Reuters) – Workers at Volkswagen AG’s meeting plant within the state of Tennessee narrowly voted against union representation, dealing a contemporary blow to the United Auto Workers’ (UAW) efforts to unionize a overseas automaker’s plant within the U.S. South.
FILE PHOTO: Cars are seen on the Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee November four, 2015. REUTERS/Tami Chappell
The German automaker and the UAW stated on Friday that workers on the Chattanooga plant voted 833 to 776 against union representation, the second time in 5 years they’ve rejected collective bargaining.
“Our employees have spoken,” Frank Fischer, president of Volkswagen Chattanooga, stated in an announcement. “Pending certification of the results… Volkswagen will respect the decision of the majority.”
Speaking to reporters in Chattanooga, UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg claimed that Volkswagen had engaged in “threats” and “intimidation” that had affected the end result of the vote.
“The company kept playing a lot of games and we are not going to abandon the workers who supported a union,” he stated.
Rothenberg stated it was too early to inform whether or not the UAW would enchantment the election outcomes, or whether or not the union would help one other vote on the plant.
The contemporary defeat comes at a pivotal time for the UAW, which has been struggling to maneuver past a federal corruption probe and faces contentious contract talks this yr with General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.
The loss additionally raises renewed questions on whether or not the UAW can acquire a toehold within the U.S. South and arrange workers at a overseas automaker.
The union’s membership peaked at 1.5 million in 1979 and regardless of good points this decade, it fell to beneath 400,00zero final yr.
The UAW narrowly failed to prepare VW’s Chattanooga plant in 2014. The vote this week was nearer than the one 5 years in the past, which was 712 against to 626 for unionization.
In 2017, workers at a Nissan Motor Co Ltd plant in Canton, Mississippi, voted practically two to 1 against union representation.
Ahead of the vote, distinguished Republican elected officers in Tennessee, together with U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn, had argued publicly against unionization on the Chattanooga plant.
Harley Shaiken, a labor knowledgeable on the University of California-Berkeley, stated with out “heavy political pressure” from these officers, the union might presumably have gained.
“The UAW will absolutely have to try again in Chattanooga,” Shaiken stated. “The vote was too close not to.”
Reporting by Nick Carey; enhancing by Sandra Maler and Christian Schmollinger