Around 1,600 Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tenn., voted Feb. 14 against joining the United Auto Workers, delivering the union a stinging defeat in what was arguably its most important organizing drive in years.
The autoworkers were banking on a victory as part of their decades-long effort to organize foreign automakers that have avoided unionization by setting up shop in southern states with strong right-to-work laws.
In this case, Volkswagen favored the organizing drive.But ultimately workers cast 712 ballots against the union and 626 for it.
UAW President Bob King blamed the loss on what he called an unprecedented level of interference from anti-union activists and politicians. Republican politicians threatened to deny Volkswagen future tax incentives if the workers organized. Opponents also plastered the town with anti-union billboards and filled newspapers with anti-union op-eds.
“Whether it was the Koch brothers and the money they spent here, whether it was [Republican Sen. Bob] Corker, whether it was Grover Norquist, all these people who were going to come in and threaten the company and threaten workers, to me was outrageous,” King said.
The New York Times, Feb. 3
Washington Post, Feb. 10, 14, 15