Tennessee VW Workers Hold Key Unionization Vote


Tennessee VW workers hold key unionization vote

New York, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 17th Apr, 2024) Volkswagen employees in Tennessee will begin casting ballots Wednesday in a vote that could make theirs the first foreign carmaker to unionize in the American South, expanding gains made by organized labor in the auto heartland of Detroit.

Hopes were high among supporters of the United Auto Workers (UAW) in Chattanooga, Tennessee on the eve of the three-day vote, as the revived labor organization takes on its first target after last fall's triumphant strike of Detroit's "Big Three."

"We're really excited," assembly worker Isaac Meadows said as he headed to the plant to hand out flyers ahead of his 2:00 pm shift.

The American South has historically been a dead zone for union drives in the auto industry, including at the 5,500-employee Chattanooga factory, where workers have twice previously voted down UAW representation.

But labor experts say the UAW could be poised for a historic win under the leadership of President Shawn Fain, with workers attracted by the success of the Detroit strikes.

"The time is right," Meadows told AFP in a phone interview.

"Pay hasn't kept up with inflation. People are realizing as labor, we have a lot of power."

Fain, who was elected president in March 2023 in the wake of a corruption scandal in the 89-year-old union, engineered the first-ever simultaneous strike of Ford, General Motors and Stellantis last fall.

After a nearly six-week stoppage, the UAW won wage hikes of about 25 percent, among other long-sought gains.

The UAW also won support from Democratic President Joe Biden, who joined a picket line and invited Fain to this year's State of the Union address.

Propelled by that momentum, the UAW unveiled an ambitious organizing campaign last November aimed at 13 companies with nearly 150,000 workers, including new players such as Tesla and Lucid.

The bulk of the targeted facilities are situated across the American South, where foreign automakers such as Toyota, Honda and BMW have set up shop.

The UAW has petitioned for a vote at a Mercedes-Benz factory in Alabama, but Federal officials have yet to schedule the election.