Canadian automotive labour body, Unifor, is blaming "fear-mongering" for last week's decision by Volkswagen workers at its Chattanooga plant in Tennessee to reject UAW representation.

The surprise move saw 53% of employees vote against the UAW, although Volkswagen is holding out the hope it can still establish an "American-style" Works Council at the factory.

"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," said Unifor national president, Jerry Dias.

"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.

"Volkswagen plants all over Europe are unionised. There is no good reason for American workers not to have the right to a union and all the benefits unions bring."

Senator Bob Corker (R), who as mayor of Chattanooga from 2001-2005 worked to develop the Enterprise South Industrial Park, currently housing Volkswagen's North America headquarters, said he was "thrilled" for the employees.

The UAW is a sister union to Unifor, which was formed by the joining together of the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions.