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U.S. union UAW close to organizing at Volkswagen plant: paper

The Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga ,Tennessee, is shown December 1, 2011. REUTERS/Billy Weeks
The Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga ,Tennessee, is shown December 1, 2011. REUTERS/Billy Weeks

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Volkswagen's factory at Chattanooga, Tennessee, is close to becoming the first U.S. car assembly plant run by a foreign company to have its workers officially represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, a German paper reported.

"Yes, we have a majority," UAW boss Bob King was quoted saying by business daily Handelsblatt in a preview of an article to be published on Friday.

More than 50 percent of the employees at the plant, which according to VW figures numbered 2,415, had signed union cards and registered as future union members, the paper said.

Volkswagen declined to comment, but its human resources director defended the union's attempts to organize at Chattanooga.

"I find it very depressing how deeply divided the country is on the issue of labor unions," Horst Neumann told Reuters late on Wednesday following a panel discussion with German auto industry executives and senior labor leaders from the IG Metall union.

"Had they been here to listen to the roundtable discussion they would have seen that we work together - it's a model for success," said Neumann, a member of IG Metall who joined the board of Europe's largest carmaker in December 2005.

(Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner; Editing by David Holmes)

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