News briefs from around Tennessee at 1:58 a.m. EST

Sunday, February 16, 2014

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UAW falls 87 votes short of major victory in South

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - Just 87 votes at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee separated the United Auto Workers union from what would have been its first successful organization of workers at a foreign automaker in the South.

Instead of celebrating a potential watershed moment for labor politics in the region, UAW supporters were left crestfallen by the 712-626 vote against union representation in the election that ended Friday night.

The result 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 loss is a major setback for the UAW’s effort to make inroads in the growing South, where foreign automakers have 14 assembly plants, eight built in the past decade, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor and industry group at the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank in Michigan.

“If this was going to work anywhere, this is where it was going to work,” she said of the Volkswagen vote.

Organizing a Southern plant is so crucial to the union that UAW President Bob King told workers in a speech that the union has no long-term future without it. The loss means the union remains largely quarantined with the Detroit Three in the Midwest and Northeast.

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Head of King University steps down under pressure

BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) - The head of King University in eastern Tennessee has resigned after a recent faculty no confidence vote and an alumni campaign for his ouster.

Gregory Jordan stepped down Friday night as president of the private school in Bristol, Tenn., affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

An online petition to King’s Board of Trustees denouncing what supporters said was a “loss of vision and academic integrity” under the president’s administration was signed by more than 500 college alumni.

The school’s assistant professor of youth ministry, Dan Kreiss, told The Johnson City Press (http://bit.ly/1miY2ILhttp://bit.ly/1miY2IL ) opponents of Jordan were “pretty ecstatic” about the resignation.

“This opens the door for the growth and renewal that King’s been anticipating all along, the stumbling block was the president’s position,” Kreiss said.

In an email, Board of Trustees Executive Committee member Marcia Porter thanked Jordan for his work at expanding the campus and its offerings over the last 17 years at the helm of the school.

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