Workers at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee dealt the United Auto Workers a stunning defeat Friday, when they voted against unionizing.
The employees voted 712-626 against union representation in an election that was widely expected to go UAW’s way. Volkswagen had offered the union unprecedented cooperation, granting organizers access to workers on the factory floor and even providing office space, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Meanwhile, workers who wanted to bring in union opponents to present their case were rejected.
President Barack Obama also weighed in on the matter, appearing to support the drive for unionization when he said opposing GOP lawmakers in Tennessee “are more concerned about German shareholders than American workers,” the Detroit Free Press reported.
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., issued a statement applauding the outcome, saying he was “thrilled for the employees at Volkswagen and for our community and its future.”
“If they can’t win this one, what can they win?” asked former General Motors labor negotiator Art Schwartz, according to The Associated Press.
UAW President Bob King had tied the union’s long-term success to organizing Southern auto plants. He issued a statement after the vote, calling unionization a “basic human right.”
“While we certainly would have liked a victory for workers here, we deeply respect the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, Volkswagen management and IG Metall for doing their best to create a free and open atmosphere for workers to exercise their basic human right to form a union,” the statement said.
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