Even with all the help it got for its organizing campaign in the South, at the vote organized inside VW’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant, the UAW registered a crippling defeat.

This prompted the United Auto Workers Union leaders to step back and rethink strategic options – they even said all legal options will be reviewed, following the close defeat. The election was supervised by the National Labor Relations Board but the UAW is now considering mounting a legal challenge against the results that cost it the foothold into anti-union South US regions.

According to Gary Chaison, a labor law professor at Clark University in Massaachusetts, the defeat “seems as if it’s just a continuing spiral of decline for the American labor movement.”

Saying he is “outraged by the outside interference in this election,” UAW President King added shortly after the voting ended, “It’s never happened before that a U.S. senator, a governor and a leader of the House of Representatives threatened the company and threatened the workers” during a union election.

Even though the UAW had active support from IG Metall, the German metalworkers union, politicians in the US region used Detroit’s negative image against the union, according to Sean McAlinden, vice president of research for the Center For Automotive Research in Ann Arbor – who called the loss a “strategic” setback for the UAW.


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