Volkswagen Workers in Tennessee Decide to Join the UAW, Which is a Big Win for the Union

Volkswagen Workers in Tennessee Decide to Join the UAW, Which is a Big Win for the Union

Late Friday night, the United Auto Workers announced that most Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have decided to join the union. This is a big step forward for the labor group and its first successful organizing drive of an automaker other than Detroit’s Big Three.

The National Labor Relations Board, which handled the election, said that getting workers to join a union was successful with 73% of the vote, or 2,628 workers. According to the NLRB, about 3,620 of the 4,326 qualified VW workers cast ballots, which is about 84%. It was argued over seven votes, and three of them were thrown out.

“In a historic victory, the vast majority of Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have voted to join the UAW,” the union said in a statement Friday night, before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) made the results public. The results are clear: Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga are the first Southern autoworkers outside of the “Big Three” to win their union. The votes are still being counted, but the outcome is clear.

Still, the NLRB has to approve the outcome. If there aren’t any unexpected problems or challenges, the business has to negotiate honestly with the union. The talks can happen directly or first through a facilitator.

As per the NLRB, each side has five business days to make an objection to the election. Nothing will be said against the finding, so it will be certified.

In a statement released Friday night, Volkswagen confirmed the UAW’s win but didn’t say much else.

The company said, “We will wait for the NLRB to certify the results.” Volkswagen wants to thank its employees in Chattanooga for going to the polls and voting.

Leaders and supporters of the UAW plan to use the win as the start of an unprecedented effort to organize 13 automakers in the U.S. This comes after the union won big contract wins with General Motors, Ford Motor, and Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler.

President Joe Biden praised the UAW’s “historic vote.” He has been a strong supporter of organized labor and the UAW.

Workers in auto shops, theaters, ports, the Teamsters, writers, warehouse and health care workers, and other unions across the country have won big battles and been given big raises. Biden said in a statement, “These union wins have helped raise wages and shown once again that the middle class built America and that unions are still building and expanding the middle class for all workers.”

Some people, including UAW President Shawn Fain, thought that this week’s vote was the best chance for the union to organize the Volkswagen plant after the strikes and record-high automaker wages. These deals included a big raise in pay, the return of cost-of-living adjustments, and other benefits.

The successful drive to organize comes just a few days after Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and five other Republican governors from Southern states spoke out against the UAW’s efforts to organize in their states.

“We have worked hard for our constituents to bring good-paying jobs to our states.” People who do these jobs are now an important part of the business that makes cars. The jobs of people in our states would be in danger if they joined a union. “In fact, all of the UAW automakers have already announced layoffs this year,” the statement said.

The UAW failed to organize the Volkswagen plant in 2014 and 2019 because it had to deal with more political pressure from outside the plant and resistance from workers. Five years ago, workers turned down joining a union by a vote of 833 to 776.

The group is now going to talk to VW about a deal. There will also be a vote expected soon by Mercedes-Benz workers at an SUV plant in Vance, Alabama, to form a union.

Early this month, workers at the plant sent papers to the NLRB for an official election to join the UAW. The vote for 5,200 workers will take place from May 13 to May 17, the NLRB said Thursday.

Fain told Mercedes-Benz workers last month, “The first thing you need to do to win is believe that you can win.” “This job could be better.” That things can get better for you. That those things are important enough to fight for. That’s why we stand. That’s why you’re here now. Because you really think it’s possible.”

Fain had promised to go beyond the “Big Three” and reach the “Big Five or Big Six” by the end of its four-and-a-half-year contracts with the Detroit automakers in 2028.

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