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Obama lashes out at Republicans on Volkswagen-union organizing fight

Two Volkswagen employees walk through the axle alignment department at the VW plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee in this December 1, 2011 file
Two Volkswagen employees walk through the axle alignment department at the VW plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee in this December 1, 2011 file

CAMBRIDGE, Maryland (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Friday waded into Washington's war of words over a union organizing election in Tennessee when he accused Republicans of trying to block labor's efforts at an auto plant in that state, according to a Democratic aide who heard the remarks.

A Democratic aide said that Obama, speaking during a closed meeting with U.S. House of Representatives Democrats, said everyone is in favor of the United Auto Workers representing Volkswagen workers except for local politicians who "are more concerned about German shareholders than American workers."

House Democrats were winding up a three-day retreat in the small town on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, about 85 miles east of Washington. Obama briefly spoke to the Democrats about a range of issues while reporters were present.

The Democratic president then held a closed session during which he made the remarks about the election that ends on Friday in Chattanooga, where union organizers are hoping to win representation of auto workers at a VW plant in that city.

Earlier this week, Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee caused a stir when he lashed out against the UAW and said he had had "conversations" leading him to believe that if the union effort failed, VW would announce the production of a new line of SUVs at the Chattanooga plant

(Reporting by Thomas Ferraro and Richard Cowan; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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