Volkswagen Workers in Tennessee Vote to Join UAW in Major Win for Union

Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, voted overwhelmingly on Friday to join the United Auto Workers (UAW), becoming the first Southern autoworkers outside of the Big Three to win their union.

According to the final vote tally released by the union, about 73 percent (2,628) of Volkswagen workers voted in favor of union representation, while 27 percent (985) voted against it.

“This election is big,” Kelcey Smith, a worker in the paint department at Volkswagen, said in a UAW statement. “This is the time; this is the place. Southern workers are ready to stand up and win a better life.”

Zachary Costello, a trainer in Volkswagen’s proficiency room, said that workers voted for the union because they desire “the pay, the benefits, the rights UAW members have on the job.”

“We saw the big contract that UAW workers won at the Big Three and that got everybody talking,” he stated. “Once people see the difference a union makes, there’s no way to stop them.”

Volkswagen thanked its Chattanooga workers for voting and said that it will await certification of the results by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which oversees the election.

The landslide win will make the Chattanooga factory the first auto plant in the South to unionize via election since the 1940s and the first foreign-owned auto plant in the South to do so.

President Joe Biden, who backed the UAW, said that union members have logged major wins and large raises, including auto workers, actors, port workers, Teamsters, writers, warehouse and health care workers.

“Together, these union wins have helped raise wages and demonstrate once again that the middle-class built America and that unions are still building and expanding the middle class for all workers,” he said in a statement.

Mercedes plant in Alabama, at which a majority of workers have signed cards indicating they support unionization, will be the next facility to hold a UAW election, during the week of May 13.

Six Republican governors from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas have previously opposed the unionization campaign, citing concerns that it was driven by “misinformation and scare tactics.”

“Unionization would certainly put our states’ jobs in jeopardy – in fact, in this year already, all of the UAW automakers have announced layoffs,” the governors said in a statement.

“In America, we respect our workforce and we do not need to pay a third party to tell us who can pick up a box or flip a switch,” they added.

In addition to the Mercedes plant, the UAW has said that more than 30 percent of employees at a Hyundai, plant in Alabama and at a Missouri Toyota auto parts factory have signed cards indicating they want to join the UAW.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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