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Tennessee Volkswagen employees vote to join United Auto Workers union

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, voted overwhelmingly Friday to join the United Auto Workers union, in a historic first test of the union’s renewed efforts. UAW to organize non-union factories.

The union ultimately received 2,628 votes, or 73 percent of the votes cast, compared to just 985 who voted no in an election organized by the National Labor Relations Board.

Volkswagen auto plant worker Duke Brandon, right, celebrates after employees voted to join the UAW union, Friday, April 19, 2024, in Chattanooga, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Volkswagen auto plant worker Duke Brandon, right, celebrates after employees voted to join the UAW union, Friday, April 19, 2024, in Chattanooga, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Both parties have five business days to file their objections to the election, the NLRB said. If there is none, the election will be certified and VW and the union must “begin bargaining in good faith.”

President Joe Biden, who has endorsed and won support from the UAW, said the union’s victory followed major union gains across the country, including among actors, port workers, Teamsters members, writers and health care workers.

“Together, these union victories have helped raise wages and demonstrate once again that the middle class built America and that unions continue to build and expand the middle class for all workers,” he said. -he declared in a press release Friday evening.

Twice in recent years, workers at the Chattanooga plant have rejected union membership in plant-wide votes. More recently, they inflicted a narrow defeat on the UAW in 2019 as federal prosecutors brought to an end a corruption and embezzlement scandal within the union.

Volkswagen auto plant worker Duke Brandon, right, hugs Vicky Holloway as they watch the results of a UAW union vote, Friday, April 19, 2024, in Chattanooga, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Volkswagen auto plant worker Duke Brandon, right, hugs Vicky Holloway as they watch the results of a UAW union vote, Friday, April 19, 2024, in Chattanooga, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

But this time they voted convincingly for the UAW, which is operating for the first time under new leadership directly elected by the members and benefiting from a successful showdown with Detroit’s major automakers.

The syndicate the new pugnacious president, Shawn Fain, was elected on a platform of cleaning up after the scandal and becoming more confrontational with automakers. Emboldened, Fain, backed by Biden, led the union in a series of strikes last fall against Detroit automakers, which resulted in lucrative new contracts.

The new contracts increased union wages by a substantial third, arming Fain and his organizers with enticing new offers to present to workers at Volkswagen and other companies.

Volkswagen auto plant worker Kiara Hughes celebrates after employees voted to join the UAW union, Friday, April 19, 2024, in Chattanooga, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Volkswagen auto plant worker Kiara Hughes celebrates after employees voted to join the UAW union, Friday, April 19, 2024, in Chattanooga, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Up next for union votes will be workers at Mercedes plants near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who will vote on UAW representation in May.

Fain said he wasn’t surprised by the magnitude of the union’s victory Friday after two previous defeats.

“I think that’s the reality of where we are and the times we live in,” he said Friday evening. “Workers are tired of being left behind. »

The victory, he said, will help growing organizing efforts across the rest of the country.

Volkswagen auto plant worker Vicky Holloway becomes emotional as she celebrates after employees voted to join the UAW union, Friday, April 19, 2024, in Chattanooga, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Volkswagen auto plant worker Vicky Holloway becomes emotional as she celebrates after employees voted to join the UAW union, Friday, April 19, 2024, in Chattanooga, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

“It gives workers everywhere else the indication that everything is OK,” Fain said. “All we’ve heard for years is we can’t win here, you can’t do this in the South and you can.”

Worker Vicky Holloway of Chattanooga was among dozens of workers cheering at an electricians’ union hall near the VW plant. She said the overwhelming vote in favor of the union happened this time because her colleagues realized they could get better benefits and have a voice in the workplace.

“Right now we don’t have a say,” said Holloway, who has worked at the plant for 13 years and was there during the union’s previous losses. “It’s like our opinions don’t matter.”

In a statement, Volkswagen thanked workers for voting and said 83.5 percent of 4,300 production workers voted in the election.

Six Southern governors, including Bill Lee of Tennessee, warned workers in a joint statement this week, joining the UAW could cost them their jobs and threaten the region’s economic progress.

But the landslide victory is a warning to non-union manufacturers, said Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University in Detroit who studies the union.

“This is going to send a powerful message to all of these companies that the UAW is knocking on the door, and if they want to remain non-union, they need to step up their game,” Masters said.

Volkswagen auto plant workers celebrate their victory in voting to join the UAW union, Friday, April 19, 2024, in Chattanooga, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Volkswagen auto plant workers celebrate their victory in voting to join the UAW union, Friday, April 19, 2024, in Chattanooga, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

He expects other non-union automakers to become more aggressive in their factories and anti-union politicians to step up their efforts to fight the union.

Shortly after the Detroit contracts were ratified, Volkswagen and other non-union companies gave large pay raises to their workers.

Last fall, Volkswagen raised pay for production workers by 11 percent, bringing the top base pay to $32.40 an hour, or just over $67,000 a year. VW said his salary exceeds the Chattanooga area’s median household income, which was $54,480 last May, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

But under the UAW contracts, key production workers at GM, for example, now earn $36 an hour, or about $75,000 a year, not including benefits and profit-sharing. When the contract ends in 2028, GM’s top employees would earn more than $89,000.

Volkswagen auto plant worker Robert Crump, left, and colleague Kelvin Allen salute the results of a UAW union vote, Friday, April 19, 2024, in Chattanooga, Tenn. (AP Photo/ George Walker IV)

Volkswagen auto plant worker Robert Crump, left, and colleague Kelvin Allen salute the results of a UAW union vote, Friday, April 19, 2024, in Chattanooga, Tenn. (AP Photo/ George Walker IV)

The VW plant will be the first that the UAW represents at a foreign auto plant in the South. However, this will not be the first unionized automobile assembly plant in the South. The UAW represents workers at two Ford assembly plants in Kentucky and two GM plants in Tennessee and Texas, as well as some heavy-duty truck manufacturing plants.

Additionally, more than thirty years ago, the UAW was at a Volkswagen plant in New Stanton, Pennsylvania, east of Pittsburgh. VW closed its small car manufacturing plant in the late 1980s.

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Krisher reported from Detroit. Associated Press reporter Chris Megerian contributed from Washington.

News Source : apnews.com
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Sara Adm

Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe. Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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