The German union IG Metall is launching a joint office with the United Auto Workers in Tennessee to promote labor representation for the estimated 100,000 employees of German-based automakers and suppliers doing business primarily in the southern United States.

The alliance between the two unions is dubbed the "Transnational Partnership Initiative." Its goals are to improve wages and working conditions among German automotive employers and to promote the German-style "works councils" to represent both hourly and salaried plant employees.

It's a move unlikely to be welcomed among anti-labor Republicans in the region, who argue that union growth would hurt future recruiting efforts. The UAW has been thwarted for decades in efforts to organize its first foreign-owned auto plant in the South, but has come closest at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga.