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Workers Vote on Unionization at Volkswagen’s U.S. Factory as UAW Seeks to Expand

Volkswagen Factory Workers in Tennessee Vote on Unionization

Volkswagen Factory Workers in Tennessee Vote on Unionization

Unionization Vote at Volkswagen’s Tennessee Plant

Workers at Volkswagen’s lone U.S. factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, are currently voting on whether to join the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. This is the union’s third attempt at organizing the plant, with voting taking place from Wednesday to Friday. Volkswagen has 4,100 hourly employees at the factory.

Previous Rejection and Unionization Milestone

Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant previously rejected union representation in 2019, with a vote of 833-776. Therefore, successfully winning the vote to unionize would be a significant milestone for the UAW. Interestingly, the Chattanooga plant is currently Volkswagen’s only non-union plant globally.

UAW’s Momentum for Expansion

The United Auto Workers has been attempting to organize non-union auto factories in the United States, mainly those built by Asian and European automakers in southern states. They faced several failures in the past. However, after a successful strike at Detroit’s Big Three automakers in the prior year, the UAW is now experiencing momentum and looking to expand.

Volkswagen and Unionization Efforts

Volkswagen workers at the Chattanooga plant are not the only target for the UAW. UAW President Shawn Fain is determined to organize workers at other non-union automakers such as Tesla, Toyota, Honda, Mercedes, and more. Fain aims to replicate the record-setting contracts achieved for UAW workers at Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis.

Volkswagen’s Pay Raises and Compensation Improvements

Volkswagen previously announced an 11% pay raise for its factory workers in Tennessee. This raise is in line with other foreign automakers following the UAW’s contracts with the Big Three automakers. It seems as though the successful contracts have led to other automakers improving pay and compensation for their workers.

Republican Governors Express Opposition

Just before the voting commenced at Volkswagen’s Tennessee plant, the Republican governors of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas jointly released a statement opposing the UAW’s unionization efforts in the South. Citing potential job losses and past experiences with unionization at foreign automaker plants, the governors expressed concerns and resisted the initiative.

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