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UAW win in Chattanooga

By staff

Chattanooga, TN – The United Auto Workers made American labor history Friday, April 19, with its biggest organizing win in decades, when workers at the Volkswagen Chattanooga plant in Tennessee voted decisively to unionize.

The National Labor Relations Board said the vote was 262 to 985, or 73% approval. The voting started at 4:45 a.m. Wednesday and ran until 8 p.m. Friday.

“In a historic victory, an overwhelming majority of Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have voted to join the UAW,” said union spokesman Jonah Furman. “The outcome is clear; Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga are the first Southern autoworkers outside of the Big Three to win their union.”

After the vote, UAW President Shawn Fain told reporters at the plant that the vote reflects the fact that working-class people are “fed up with being left behind” and living paycheck to paycheck.

“This gives workers everywhere else the indication that it's OK and it can be done,” Fain said about organizing the VW plant. “All we heard for years is that we can't do this in the South. And you can. Workers can do it. It's time for workers to take more control of their lives. The only way they can take control of their work lives is by forming a union.”

The union will now represent the only VW plant in the United States, winning by a landslide after failed votes in 2014 and 2019. The victory came in spite of opposition by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, who joined five other Republican governors in issuing a joint statement in opposition to the UAW’s organizing efforts in the South. The union was able to successfully capitalize on the momentum from its successful strike against the Big Three automakers this fall.

The UAW hopes to further build on this momentum by organizing the Mercedes-Benz plants in Vance and Woodstock, Alabama this May.

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