UAW suddenly retreats from fight at Tennessee VW plant

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn./ DETROIT, (Reuters) – The United Auto Workers, surprising even its supporters, yesterday abruptly withdrew its legal challenge to a union organizing vote that it lost at a Volkswagen AG plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee in February.

Just an hour before the start of a National Labor Relations Board hearing on the challenge, the union dropped its case, casting a cloud over its long and still unsuccessful push to organize foreign-owned auto plants in the U.S. South.

VW workers due to testify in the NLRB hearing were already at the courthouse in downtown Chattanooga when they heard the news, which left lawyers in the hearing room wondering how to proceed.

UAW President Bob King, whose term expires in June, had vowed four years ago to successfully bring the union into a foreign-owned Southern plant. Three years ago, he said that unless the union was able to do so, its future was in jeopardy.

Explaining the decision to drop the case, King said the NLRB election appeal process might have taken years to complete.

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