VW workers in Tennessee vote to join UAW

Written by Michael Cowden

Workers at Volkswagen’s assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., have voted overwhelmingly to join the United Autoworkers (UAW) union.

More than 3,600 ballots were cast, with 73% of Chattanooga workers voting to join the UAW and only 27% voting against unionization, per the UAW.

Volkswagen on Friday confirmed the tally and said it was awaiting certification of the results from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The plant in Chattanooga is Volkswagen’s only US assembly plant. It makes the Volkswagen ID.4 and Volkswagen Atlas SUVs.

The development follows big gains in wages and benefits negotiated by the UAW last year among the “Big Three” Detroit-area automakers: Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. The union has used that accomplishment to gain traction in the South, where the auto industry is often characterized by foreign ownership and non-union workforces.

“People in high places told us good things can’t happen here in Chattanooga. They told us this isn’t the time to stand up, this isn’t the place,” Kelcey Smith, a worker in the paint department, said in a UAW release on Friday.

“But we did stand up and we won. This is the time; this is the place. Southern workers are ready to stand up and win a better life,” he added.

Volkswagen is headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. The UAW said it would turn its sites next to Mercedes-Benz, another German automaker.

Mercedes-Benz operates an assembly plant in Vance, Ala. Workers there are scheduled to vote May 13-17 on whether to join the union. Vance, near Tuscaloosa, Ala., makes the GLE and GLS series SUVs.

Michael Cowden

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