Workers At Chattanooga Volkswagen Plant Vote By Large Majority To Join United Auto Workers

  • Friday, April 19, 2024

Workers at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant voted by a large majority to join the United Auto Workers.

The workers voted 2,628 to 985 for union representation. There were seven challenged ballots that were not counted, because they weren’t determinative to the outcome of the election. There were three void ballots. The total number of eligible voters was 4,326.

Officials said, "The employer must now begin bargaining in good faith with the union. Parties have five business days to file objections to the election. If no objections are filed, the result will be certified."

Tennessee AFL-CIO President Billy Dycus said, "Tonight's historic victory in Chattanooga confirms what those of us in the labor movement know to be true: it's better in a union. In spite of relentless lies and scare tactics from Governor Bill Lee and other pro-business politicians, workers refused to be swayed by yet another round of attempted election interference and sent a clear message that they want a voice on the job.

"The fact that this decisive win happened in a Southern state that boasts an anti-worker, Republican supermajority legislature speaks volumes about the power and solidarity of the labor movement. Across the country, including right here in Tennessee, workers are continuing to see the many benefits of union membership. This massive accomplishment is only the beginning of what's to come for organizing throughout the entire region. We congratulate the UAW on a successful, powerful campaign and look forward to welcoming their newest members into our Tennessee labor family."

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said, "We congratulate the Volkswagen workers, our UAW family and UAW President Shawn Fain for this monumental victory in Chattanooga. The victory at Volkswagen’s plant in Tennessee marks a historic milestone for workers across the state and the broader South. Led by a diverse coalition of young activists, this triumph challenges outdated labor laws and sets new standards for collective bargaining power. It symbolizes a shift away from the old economic model that prioritizes the profits of big corporations to a new era where working people have the power to shape our futures.

"By securing fair wages, benefits and workplace protections, Chattanooga VW workers are not only improving their own lives but also raising the bar for working people across the southern region. We at the AFL-CIO are working with our affiliated unions and community allies to build infrastructure in the South to open up new avenues of innovative organizing. Workers in the South, like everywhere, are hungry for a union and a seat at the table now more than ever.

"This victory sends a powerful message to corporate interests everywhere: Workers will no longer tolerate exploitation and mistreatment. Whether it’s autoworkers in Tennessee, film crews in Hollywood, hotel workers in Las Vegas or baristas at the local coffee shop, when working people stand together in solidarity, we have the power to enact meaningful change and usher in a brighter future for all."

Americans for Prosperity - Tennessee (AFP-TN) State Director Tori Venable said, "This  top-down labor approach will only hurt Chattanooga.

“Friday’s vote represents another top-down labor approach that will have lasting negative impacts for Chattanooga and the surrounding communities. President Biden has enabled union bosses like United Automobile Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain to bully and scare workers into unionization by politicizing the workplace. 

“President Joe Biden and ‘Bidenomics’ are directly responsible for policies that are fueling increased labor and production costs, as well as unease for American workers.

"These unionizations will only hurt American workers; as labor strikes have at Ford, GM, and Stellantis plants did last fall.  

“In Tennessee, we respect the right to work and freedom to join a union or not. These workers have made their decision; we sincerely hope they are insulated from Bidenomics and corruption that plagued UAW shops in Detroit."

The election results were tabulated on Friday night by the National Labor Relations Board after three days of voting.

The election was watched closely in the U.S. and abroad as the first battle for the UAW to make inroads into the South.

It was the third UAW bid at the sprawling plant at the Enterprise South Industrial Park at Tyner.

County Mayor Weston Wamp and some members of the local legislative delegation had held a news conference near the plant to urge workers not to unionize.

Governor Bill Lee also came out against joining the UAW as did five other Southern governors.

Union officials said Volkswagen officials themselves had not opposed the union, saying it was common to have labor councils at the plants.

Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga hosted a union election watch party at the IBEW hall.

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