Volkswagen workers at Tennessee plant file to hold UAW election

Credit: Shawn Fain | X

Volkswagen workers at the automaker’s Tennessee factory have filed to hold a union election, as the United Auto Workers (UAW) continues its drive at multiple U.S. facilities.

The UAW announced last month that a majority of workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, signed union cards. On Monday, the union shared a post on its website saying that workers at the plant have formally filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to join the UAW.

“Today, we are one step closer to making a good job at Volkswagen into a great career,” said Isaac Meadows, a team member in assembly. “Right now, we miss time with our families because so much of our paid-time-off is burned up during the summer and winter shutdowns. We shouldn’t have to choose between our family and our job. By winning our union and a real voice at Volkswagen, we can negotiate for more time with our families.”

Victor Vaughn, another employee who works in logistics, points to a need for improved safety efforts at the factory as the reason he supports unionizing.

“Just the other day, I was almost hit by four 500-plus pound crates while I was driving to deliver parts,” Vaughn explains. “That incident should’ve been followed up within the hour, but even after I clocked out no one asked me about it. VW has partnered with unionized workforces around the world to make their plants safe and successful. That’s why we’re voting for a voice at Volkswagen here in Chattanooga.”

Past attempts to unionize the plant have failed, with workers voting against joining the UAW most recently in 2019.

You can watch a video from the UAW below, featuring multiple workers at the Volkswagen plant explaining why they plan to vote yes.

On Monday, Volkswagen said it “will fully support an NLRB vote so every team member has a chance to vote in privacy in this important decision. The election timeline will be determined by the NLRB.” (via Automotive News).

The NLRB has said that it received the filing for the UAW to represent around 4,300 workers at the plant. If Volkswagen and the UAW can’t agree on election details, then the NLRB will hold a hearing before the election on March 26.

The Chattanooga factory employs around 5,500 workers, according to the Volkswagen website. The facility produces the Volkswagen ID.4 electric vehicle (EV), the Atlas and the Atlas Cross Sport.

The UAW points out that it’s Volkswagen’s only plant around the world that doesn’t have employee representation. This also marks the first non-union U.S. plant at which workers have filed to hold an election, after the UAW successfully garnered record pay increases in a historic six-week strike against Ford, General Motors (GM) and Dodge-Chrysler owner Stellantis last year.

In November, following the ratification of the new contracts with the so-called “Big Three,” the UAW launched official union drives at Volkswagen, Tesla, Toyota and 10 other automakers with non-union-represented facilities in the U.S. Along with the Volkswagen plant achieving a supermajority of workers signing union cards, employees at a key Mercedes-Benz plant also signed up for the UAW last month.

Some have criticized the UAW for driving costs too high, and many have aired concerns about U.S. companies potentially moving manufacturing outside the country in response.

After the UAW threatened to launch a strike at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant last month, due to incomplete local contracts, CEO Jim Farley said that the automaker would “have to think carefully about our (manufacturing) footprint.”

“Our reliance on the UAW turned out to be we were the first truck plant to be shut down,” Farley said during a conference. “Really our relationship has changed. It’s been a watershed moment for the company. Does this have business impact? Yes.”

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Volkswagen workers at Tennessee plant file to hold UAW election
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