Volkswagen's Chattanooga employees have spurned the United Auto Workers, rejecting two years of wooing by the Detroit-based union in a vote of 712 to 626.
The vote count came late Friday after three days of balloting by VW workers in the National Labor Relations Board-supervised election. Some experts said the result is a blow to the UAW and that the VW plant was its best chance to organize a foreign-owned auto factory in the South.
Jack Nerad, executive market analyst of Kelley Blue Book, said UAW put a lot of work into trying to organize VW's Chattanooga operation. He termed it "a publicity setback for certain."
"On behalf of Volkswagen Group of America, I want to thank all of our Chattanooga production and maintenance employees for their participation in this week's vote. They have spoken, and Volkswagen will respect the decision of the majority," said Frank Fischer, CEO and chairman of Volkswagen Chattanooga. "The election results remain to be certified by the NLRB," Fischer, said.
"Our employees have not made a decision that they are against a works council. Throughout this process, we found great enthusiasm for the idea of an American-style works council both inside and outside our plant," Fischer noted. "Our goal continues to be to determine the best method for establishing a works council in accordance with the requirements of U.S. labor law to meet VW America's production needs and serve our employees' interests. ''
Sebastian Patta, vice president for human resources, said, "While there was intense outside interest in this election, our managers and employees inside the plant maintained high quality production and continued to work together in a calm and respectful manner."
"Our commitment to Tennessee is a long-term investment. We look forward to continuing to work with the state of Tennessee and the city of Chattanooga to support job creation, growth, and economic development today and into the future," Fischer added.
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