Story by the Associated Press; curated by Jason Howerton

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Workers at a Volkswagen factory in Tennessee have voted against union representation, a devastating loss that derails the United Auto Workers union’s effort to organize Southern factories.

The 712-626 vote released late Friday stunned many labor experts who expected a UAW win because Volkswagen tacitly endorsed the union and even allowed organizers into the Chattanooga factory to make sales pitches.

The UAW for decades has tried without success to organize a foreign-owned plant in a region that’s wary of organized labor. The loss now makes it even harder for the union to recruit members at another Southern factory.

FILE – In this March 21, 2012, file photo, workers walk by the Volkswagen AG plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. Workers at the plant will decide in a three-day vote Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, whether they want to be represented by the United Auto Workers union. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig, file)

FILE – In this July 31, 2012, file photo, an employee works on a Passat sedan at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. A three-day election on whether workers will be represented by the United Auto Workers union concludes on Friday, Feb. 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig, file)

FILE – In this June 12, 2013, file photo, workers assemble Volkswagen Passat sedans at the German automaker’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig, file)

“If they can’t win this one, what can they win?” asked Art Schwartz, a former General Motors labor negotiator who now is a consultant in Ann Arbor, Mich.

UAW President Bob King, in a 2011 speech to workers, said the union has no long-term future if it can’t organize the Southern plants.

King, however, stuck to statements he made earlier that the union would seek a vote and respect any decision made by workers.

“While we certainly would have liked a victory for workers here, we deeply respect the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, Volkswagen management and IG Metall for doing their best to create a free and open atmosphere for workers to exercise their basic human right to form a union,” King said in a statement.

FILE – In this June 26, 2009, file photo, General Motors worker Brent Watts walks to the United Auto Workers union hall in Spring, Hill, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

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