With 712 to 626 votes against union representation, the UAW lost last week its best chance to organize a Southern foreign plant and gain a foothold, while VW executives still favor the form of representation through a works council.
With the UAW pushing hard to organize the Chattanooga, Tennessee plant and anti-union speakers, like US Senator Bob Corker even casting predictions that VW may bring a new vehicle for assembly there, the workers were hard pressed when they decided to have or not union representation.
Well, the dice were cast, and while some are thrilled, others see it as a disaster.
“Needless to say, I am thrilled,” Corker said in a statement after the results were disclosed.
“We are outraged at the outside interference in this election. It’s never happened in this country before that a U.S. senator, a governor, a leader of the house, a leader of the legislature here threatened the company with those incentives, threatened workers with the loss of product,” said Bob King, the UAW president.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen go on their usual German business, thinking about the future, as Frank Fischer, chief executive of VW Chattanooga and manager of the plant, said that while the UAW was rejected, the company’s works council proposal was acclaimed.
“Throughout this process, we found great enthusiasm for the idea of an American-style works council both inside and outside our plant,” Fischer said. “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.”
Still, under US law, the power of the council is rather limited, as it would only be consulted on limited subjects, rather than negotiate with management on working conditions – and, according to some experts the workers might need to set up their own union.