VW Pro-Union Vote 1St Step In Changing The US South

(MENAFN- Asia Times) A decisive majority of the Volkswagen workers employed at a factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee cast their ballots in favor of joining the United Auto Workers union, the German automaker announced on April 19, 2024.

Persuading any Southern autoworkers to join a union had long been one of the US labor movement's most enduring challenges, despite persistent efforts by the UAW to organize this workforce.

To be sure, the UAW already has members employed by Ford and General Motors at facilities in Kentucky, Texas, Missouri and Mississippi .

However, the union had previously tried and largely failed to organize workers at foreign-owned companies, including Volkswagen and Nissan, in Southern states – where about 30% of all U.S. automotive jobs are located . It was the UAW's third election at the same factory since 2014. The prior two ended in narrow losses.

The victory follows the UAW's most successful strike in a generation against Detroit's Big Three automakers, through which it won higher pay and better benefits for its members in 2023.

Volkswagen said it will await certification of the results by the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency responsible for enforcing US workers' rights to organize. As long as neither side challenges the results within five business days, the NLRB will certify them – greenlighting the start of bargaining over a contract.

The union has already scheduled another election that will occur less than a month after the Volkswagen vote. More than 5,000 workers at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance, Alabama , will have their say on whether to join the UAW in a vote that will run May 13-17, 2024.

$40 million campaign

The UAW has pledged to spend US$40 million through 2026 to expand its ranks to include more auto and electric battery workers, including many employed in the South , where the industry is quickly gaining ground .

Based on my five decades of experience as a union organizer and labor historian , I anticipate that, recent momentum aside, the UAW will face resistance from the other foreign automakers that operate in the South. The pushback is also coming from Southern politicians , many of whom have expressed concern that UAW success would undermine the region's carefully crafted approach to economic development.


Asia Times

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