Monday, July 15, 2024

UAW Gains Momentum as Majority of Volkswagen Tennessee Plant Workers Join Union Drive

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Following the United Automotive Workers’ (UAW) recent push to organize workers at several automakers with U.S. factories, a significant milestone has been reached at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant in Tennessee, with over 50 percent of workers signing up to join the union.

According to a report from Bloomberg on Tuesday, the UAW has garnered substantial support at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga facility. This development follows the union’s initiative launched in November, which targeted Volkswagen, Tesla, Toyota, and others, following a successful six-week strike against major automakers Ford, General Motors (GM), and Stellantis.

Zach Costello, a Volkswagen employee leading the UAW organizing committee at the Chattanooga plant, emphasized the impact of historic strikes, stating, “Momentum’s picked up in a big way. [The strike against the Big Three] was massively influential in waking people up [at the Tennessee plant]. It really turned a lot of people to our side.”

Under U.S. labor laws, companies have the option to recognize and negotiate with a union once a majority of workers sign union cards. Alternatively, a company can choose to withhold recognition until the union wins an election at the company.

The UAW has set a threshold of 70 percent or more worker support before seeking recognition at facilities. In response, Volkswagen reiterated its commitment to respecting workers’ rights to decide on union representation, emphasizing its dedication to maintaining a “world-class production environment” in Chattanooga and fostering transparent communication.

According to Volkswagen’s website, the Chattanooga plant employs approximately 5,500 workers, with an average annual salary exceeding $60,000. The facility currently manufactures the Volkswagen ID.4 electric vehicle (EV), Volkswagen Atlas, and Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport.

Last fall’s strikes resulted in significant pay increases for workers at Ford, GM, and Stellantis, prompting the UAW to expand its organizing efforts to other automakers with U.S. facilities. UAW President Shawn Fain expressed optimism about the union’s future bargaining power, envisioning negotiations with the “Big Five or Six” automakers instead of solely the Big Three.

“I was told I was crazy for what we were asking for. I know people say it’s crazy going after all these companies—I don’t think it is. I think workers are ready. I think now is the time,” remarked Fain in a recent statement.

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