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Volkswagen’s U.S. Plant Makes History: Workers Overwhelmingly Vote to Join UAW

Daniel Kim Views  

73% of voters in favor of joining the UAW
Success in the South, where anti-union sentiment is strong
Mercedes-Benz Alabama factory to vote next month on 13th

Workers at German Volkswagen’s American factory are cheering upon announcing the vote results to join the United Auto Workers (UAW) on the 19th (local time). Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA/Reuters-Yonhap News

Workers at Volkswagen’s American factory have decided to join the United Auto Workers (UAW), according to a report by Reuters on the 19th (local time).

The workers at Volkswagen’s only American factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, voted on joining the UAW. The vote passed with a 73% approval rate, with 2,628 votes in favor and 985 against.

As the final vote results were announced, most workers cheered, some in tears of joy as they raised their “Union, YES” signs high.

Reuters explained that the Volkswagen factory had become the first auto factory in the South to form a union through an election since the 1940s and the first foreign-owned auto factory in the South to form a union.

The factory previously voted to join the UAW in 2014 and 2019 but failed. However, the Volkswagen factory won by a wide margin as public support for unions has grown, with the UAW winning a simultaneous strike at three Detroit automakers (Ford, GM, and Stellantis) last year.

It is being closely watched whether the trend of foreign auto factories, starting with the Volkswagen factory in the South, where anti-union sentiment is relatively strong, will continue to join the UAW. The Detroit-based UAW has been waging a nationwide campaign to get workers at 13 non-union automakers, including Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Rivian, Nissan, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, to join the union after their simultaneous strike victory at the three automakers.

Especially in the South, there are foreign automakers such as Hyundai・Kia Motor Company, Germany’s Daimler and BMW, and Japan’s Toyota and Honda, none of which have joined the UAW.

The UAW’s next target is Mercedes-Benz. The Mercedes-Benz factory in Alabama is scheduled to vote to join the UAW next month.

Harley Shaiken, Professor of Labor at UC Berkeley, said, “The margins of automakers are overwhelmingly high these days,” adding, “This is a historic moment.”

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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