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Volkswagen workers join UAW in historic vote

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Dive Brief:

  • Autoworkers at Volkswagen Group’s assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee voted to join the United Auto Workers union on Friday, according to a press release from the UAW.
  • More than 2,600 workers — 73% — voted in favor of joining the union, while just under 1,000 voted no. The facility has about 5,500 employees in total. 
  • It’s a historic win for the UAW, as the Volkswagen plant is the first foreign-owned facility to unionize in the U.S.

Dive Insight:

The vote comes after thousands of autoworkers launched campaigns to join the UAW in November following record wage increases won from the Big Three during contract negotiations last year. Volkswagen’s Chattanooga assembly plant was the first non-union automotive plant in the U.S. to announce majority support to form a union in February. 

“This is a movement for every blue-collar worker in America,” said Doug Snyder, a body worker at Volkswagen, in the UAW press release. “We’re looking forward to getting to the bargaining table with the company and winning a contract that makes things right at Volkswagen.”

Late last year, Volkswagen boosted wages by 11% at the Chattanooga plant and reduced the time required to reach the top of the pay scale. The changes took effect in December.

Volkswagen, which has been accused of union-busting activities, previously said it respects workers’ rights to organize.

The UAW will now turn its attention to Mercedes-Benz workers in Alabama, who will vote in their own election between May 13 and May 17. A supermajority of the more than 5,000 autoworkers at the Tuscaloosa facility filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board earlier this month.

In February, the union announced a $40 million commitment through 2026 in new organizing funds to support non-union U.S. autoworkers and battery workers.

More than 10,000 non-union autoworkers have signed union cards in recent months, with public campaigns launched at facilities operated by Mercedes-Benz in Vance, Alabama, Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Hyundai in Montgomery, Alabama, and Toyota in Troy, Missouri. Workers at more than two dozen other facilities are also actively organizing, the UAW says.

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