United Auto Workers Wins First Vote At Volkswagen's Chattanooga Plant

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

Skilled trades workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga Assembly Plant in Tennessee voted Friday overwhelmingly to join the United Auto Workers union, the first UAW victory at an automotive plant in the South, Reuters reported.

The union vote was the first victory for the UAW, who tried unsuccessfully in February to unionize the entire plant, which included nearly 1,500 production workers. In August, the union filed to open voting only to maintenance workers and ballots were cast Friday.

Friday’s victory for the UAW only incorporated just over 10 percent of the overall workforce. According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, 152 skilled trades workers voted in Friday’s ballot question.

The win, however small for the union, could shift workers at other plants in the region to warming up to the UAW.

“It gives the UAW a significant new tool in trying to organize the foreign automakers in the south. Symbolically, it’s going to be huge,” Dennis Cuneo, a former Toyota senior vice president for North America, told Reuters.

The UAW’s leader in Chattanooga downplayed the union’s reach into other automakers’ plants Friday.

“Every case has to be built on the circumstances” UAW secretary-treasurer Gary Casteel said. “We are not filing on Nissan or Mercedes tomorrow, but if our evaluation proved that there was a unit that was ready and strong enough to have an election, certainly we would explore it.”

Volkswagen said they would appeal the decision to the National Labor Relations Board, but the automaker’s prospects of reversing the decision are dim.

“We believe that a union of only maintenance employees fractures our workforce and does not take into account the overwhelming community of interest shared between our maintenance and production employees,” a Volkswagen spokesman told the Times Free Press.

Aaron Cole
Aaron Cole

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  • Leonard Ostrander We own a 2017 Buick Envision built in China. It has been very reliable and meets our needs perfectly. Of course Henry Ford was a fervent anti-semite and staunch nazi sympathizer so that rules out Ford products.
  • Ravenuer I would not.
  • V8fairy Absolutely no, for the same reasons I would not have bought a German car in the late 1930's, and I am glad to see a number of other posters here share my moral scruples. Like EBFlex I try to avoid Chinese made goods as much as possible. The quality may also be iffy, but that is not my primary concern
  • Tsarcasm No, Japan only. Life costs by Rank:#1 - House (150k+)#2 - Education (30k+)#3 - Automobile (30k+) why waste hard earned money in inferior crap => Korean, Chinese, and American cars are trash. a toyota or honda will last twice as long.
  • Tassos In the 90s we hired a former PhD student and friend of mine, who 'worked' at GM "Research" labs, to come work for us as a 'temp' lecturer and get paid extra. He had no objection from GM, came during the day (around 2 PM), two hours drive round trip, plus the 1.5 hour lecture, twice weekly. (basically he goofed off two entire afternoons out of the five) He told me they gave him a different model new car every month, everything (even gas) paid. Instead of him paying parking, I told him to give me the cars and I drove them for those 90 mins, did my shopping etc. Almost ALL sucked, except the Eldo coupe with the Northstar. That was a nice engine with plenty of power (by 90s standards). One time they gave him the accursed Caddy Catera, which was as fun driving as having sex with a fish, AND to make it worse, the driver's door handle broke and my friend told me GM had to pay an arm and a leg to fix it, needed to replace almost the whole damned door!
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