Workers at the Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, Tenn., voted 712-626 not to unionize late Friday night. The Associated Press reports:

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 Chattanooga.

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.

That seems a likely explanation. The defeat for the United Auto Workers was a victory for Republican Sen. Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam.

Labor reporter Mike Elk was poetic in his disappointment in the vote.