UAW says it has been approved for labor vote at VW in Tennessee

DETROIT (Reuters) -- Volkswagen AG skilled trades workers at the company's lone U.S. auto assembly plant will vote on Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 whether to be represented by the UAW, the union said on Wednesday.

Volkswagen, which had earlier been the most supportive of the UAW among foreign automakers with U.S. plants, fought the petition by the UAW for a vote of 165 skilled trades workers at the plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The skilled trades workers maintain the production machinery at the plant that makes Passat sedans.

A VW spokesman in Chattanooga on Wednesday said the company "is reviewing the content" of the decision by an NLRB regional director and "considering its options." Further, VW said it does not want workers at the plant to be separated into fragmented representation groups.

In February 2014, the union lost an election to represent all hourly production workers at the plant by a vote of 712-to-626.

Federal law allows a portion of a work location to be represented by a union, the UAW said.

The tone of UAW statements on VW and the plant workers in Chattanooga has taken a turn since the union was working with VW more closely in 2014.

Gary Casteel, UAW vice president and head of its organizing effort at foreign-owned plants, said, "Volkswagen's attempt to sidestep U.S. law (by opposing the vote) was a waste of employees' time and energy, and a waste of government resources."

The UAW represents workers at the three Detroit automakers: General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automakers -- along with some of their suppliers. It also has represented workers at Mitsubishi's plant in Normal, Ill., which has been in the process of closing this year. 

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