Unifor president laments union loss at Volkswagen plant in U.S.

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:29 PM ET

It’s being called a defeat for labour in the U.S. south and the president of Canada’s largest union voiced his dismay in a statement Friday.

Employees at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., voted 712 to 626 against joining the United Automobile Workers Friday.

The setback is a bitter defeat because the union had the cooperation of Volkswagen management and the aid of Germany's powerful IG Metall union, yet it failed to win a majority among the plants 1,550 hourly workers, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"This vote had little chance of succeeding, with laws that make it difficult for workers to join unions, and then an endless barrage of publicity and fear-mongering, aimed at pressuring workers to vote no," Unifor president Jerry Dias said. "This is a very sad story - Republicans and well-funded conservative groups have convinced workers to vote against their own best interest.

“In Canada, we don't face the same pressures, but still the legislative climate favours big business over workers' right to choose."

The UAW is a sister union to Unifor, which was formed last Labour Day weekend by merging the Canadian Autoworkers with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union.