Southern Governors Express Concern Over UAW’s Efforts to Unionize Car Factories

Southern Governors Express Concern Over UAW's Efforts to Unionize Car Factories

Six Republican governors are speaking out against the United Auto Workers’ efforts to organize car plants in their states. This is causing a stir as the labor group tries to build on last year’s success in getting the Big Three automakers to make concessions by entering the historically union-averse South.

Five governors from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas said in a joint statement on Tuesday, “We have a duty to our constituents to speak out when we see special interests trying to come into our state and threaten our jobs and the values we live by.”

It was the day before 4,300 Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tenn. were going to vote on whether to join the UAW, and the governors spoke out against it. Volkswagen’s main place to build electric cars in North America is this plant, where the UAW just barely lost union elections in 2014 and 2019. From Wednesday evening to Friday evening, people who work at the plant will cast their votes.

The company has said that it supports the workers’ right to choose whether to join the UAW. However, the governors who spoke out against the union drive said, “We do not need to pay a third party to tell us who can pick up a box or flip a switch.” They also said that the campaign was an attempt to help President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign.

The UAW, which has backed President Biden’s campaign for reelection, wouldn’t say anything.

In the fall, the UAW won record-high contracts for 150,000 workers at General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis, which is owned by Chrysler. After that, some nonunion factories also said they would be raising wages for their workers. After leading a six-week strike at the companies, UAW President Shawn Fain promised last fall to organize all nonunion companies in the industry, from foreign automakers with businesses in the U.S. to Tesla and other companies that make electric cars.

At the Chattanooga plant, VW gave workers an 11% pay raise in November. However, the UAW said that VW’s pay still falls behind that of the Detroit automakers. VW says that the best workers at their Chattanooga plant make $32.40 an hour.

By the time the contracts end in April 2028, 25% pay raises were written into the deals that the UAW made with Detroit companies. With cost of living increases, workers will get raises of about 33% for a top hourly wage of $42 plus an annual profit share.

The union is also growing in other southern states. In February, the UAW said that most of the workers at a Mercedes plant near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, had signed cards saying they wanted to join the labor group.

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