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Volkswagen Workers Reject Union


Workers at Volkswagen AG's only factory in the U.S. have voted against forming a factory-wide union, dealing yet another blow to efforts by the United Auto Workers union to organize plants owned by foreign automakers.

According to preliminary results announced on Friday, 833 workers at Volkswagen's plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, reportedly voted against union representation, while 776 voted in favor.

According to the German automotive giant, about 93 percent of the nearly 1,700 eligible workers at the plant took part in the vote, which was the second in five years. The Volkswagen plant currently produces the Altas and the Passat.

Frank Fischer, President and CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga, said the results are pending certification by the National Labor Relations Board.

UAW is grappling with falling membership in the U.S. auto industry amid plant closures, automation and the emergence of foreign automakers in the U.S.

To offset the declining membership, the union has been trying to gain a foothold in factories owned by foreign automakers. None of the 31 plants in the U.S. owned by foreign automakers such as Volkswagen, Mercedez-Benz, Toyota and Nissan have ever been unionized.

Tracy Romero, UAW organizing director, said in a statement that Volkswagen ran a "brutal campaign of fear and misrepresentation", making it almost impossible for Volkswagen workers to form a union.

Romero indicated that the UAW intends to ask for the help of VW labor leaders in Europe to help protect Chattanooga workers from any retaliation.

By law, Volkswagen workers will have to wait one year before seeking another election.

"Ultimately this has always been about Chattanooga workers who are the only VW workers in the world without a union. If people wonder why the middle class is disappearing in this country, it's because it is nearly impossible for workers to get access to collective bargaining," Brian Rothenberg, spokesman for the UAW, said.

The vote comes as the UAW braces for tough negotiations with automakers Ford Motor, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler on a new round of labor agreements later this year.

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