Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee plant workers have rejected membership from United Auto Workers for the second time in five years.
This comes as a major blow to the union's bid to organize all foreign car plants in the United States. And, according to The Tennesseean, Volkswagen employees voted 833 to 766 to reject unionization, with around 1,700 full-time workers being eligible to vote.
The Chattanooga plant currently produces the Passat and the Atlas.
Despite non-union workers typically paid lower wages than unionized ones by US plants, the UAW has been unsuccessful in their attempts to unionize factories in the south, particularly the ones owned by Nissan and Mercedes-Benz. They failed to get VW workers on their side in 2014 and their bid to unionize them this year has again been rejected.
This latest unionization fight is was said to have been highly political - much like the last one - and there was a lot of interference from business-backed anti-union groups. The State's Republicans were strongly against UAW and told workers that unionizing could jeopardize their job security.
Republican governor Bill Lee even visited the plant to speak to workers about his reasons for not wanting them to accept the proposal, while US Senator Marsha Blackburn also voiced her desire to see it rejected.
The excerpt below was taken from the New York Times:
Wilma Liebman, a chairwoman of the National Labor Relations Board under President Barack Obama, said she had never heard of a governor’s appearing directly before workers to lobby them to vote against union representation. Mr. Lee’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
State Representative Robin Smith, a Republican whose district includes the plant, had said a decision to unionize could threaten tens of millions of dollars in future state incentives for the company.
“It’s much easier to defend incentives, the use of tax dollars, when they’re going into an investment that follows our state’s philosophy,” Ms. Smith said in an interview.
UAW hasn't exactly made a great case for itself either; and that workers wish to remain unlinked is understandable, given the fact that the union has had its reputation tarnished by high-profile corruption scandals which have even led to former leaders being imprisoned.