After organizing massive strikes against Detroit's Big Three, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union has Volkswagen's plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in its crosshairs. UAW president Shawn Fain announced he's sending union representatives to the site to promote unionization.
Speaking to about 1,100 viewers on Facebook Live, Fain revealed UAW vice president Chuck Browning will visit the Chattanooga factory for "mass meetings," according to the Detroit Free Press. He added that his team has gathered roughly 2,000 signatures from Volkswagen workers interested in joining the UAW. That's about 36% of the approximately 5,500 employees who work in facility. Fain added that the team going to Tennessee — which includes Ford representatives — will be "laying out what Volkswagen doesn't want workers to know."
There's no word yet on when, or whether, Volkswagen's Chattanooga workers will decide whether to join the UAW.
Volkswagen isn't the UAW's only target; the union also wants to add workers at non-unionized plants operated by BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, and Toyota, among others, to its ranks. It's trying to unionize the factories that Tesla operates across the nation as well.
Broadly speaking, the carmakers whose workers aren't unionized want to keep it this way. Many gave workers a raise and other benefits in the wake of the strikes that cost Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis billions of dollars in late 2023. Volkswagen's workers got an 11% pay raise in November 2023, while Tesla gave its factory employees a "market adjustment pay increase" whose amount wasn't published.
"We're in this fight not to win it for them. We're in this fight because we rise and fall together in solidarity in the truest sense of the word. That's what this is about. The fate of the U.S. autoworker in the South is the fate of the autoworker in Michigan," Fain said.
In the same speech, Fain said it was "heinous" and "shameful" for Stellantis to fire 539 temporary employees.
"We're going to fight like hell to get people back to work," he promised.
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