HomeLocal News

UAW says over 2,000 VW Chattanooga workers signed union cards

From the Chattanooga Times Free Press: The United Auto Workers has increased to more than 2,000 the number of union authorization cards signed by

From the Chattanooga Times Free Press: The United Auto Workers has increased to more than 2,000 the number of union authorization cards signed by employees at Volkswagen Chattanooga, and a key UAW official is expected in the city this weekend for meetings.


Since announcing in early December that more than 1,000 plant workers had signed the cards in an organizing campaign, more than 1,000 additional employees joined in, said Shawn Fain, the UAW’s president in a Facebook Live message this week.


Fain said UAW Vice President Chuck Browning, who oversees labor relations with Ford Motor Co. for the union, will host meetings in Chattanooga. He said Browning will bring two union officials of Ford’s Louisville, Kentucky, plant with him.


The UAW president said they plan to lay out “what Volkswagen doesn’t want workers to know.”


He said if nonunion autoworkers had standards of the Big Three — General Motors, Ford and Stellantis — they’d bring home thousands of more dollars than they are today.


“Instead of that money funneled back to Germany … it would stay in Chattanooga,” Fain said. “It would be invested in local businesses, in local communities with local families.”


A Volkswagen Group of America spokesperson said Thursday the company is proud of the world-class manufacturing facility created in Chattanooga and the 5,500 employees who make it run.


“We are committed to investing in America, in our community and, most importantly, in our employees — who have a strong voice in their workplace,” spokesperson Michael W. Lowder said in an email.


He said VW also is committed to providing “clear, transparent and timely information that helps inform our employees and managers on their legal rights and obligations, which is especially important in an atmosphere of deliberate misinformation.”


In Chattanooga outside the VW plant last month, Fain said another vote by employees to align with the UAW was up to workers and how fast they sign more cards.


“At 70% we’ll start pushing for a vote,” he said.


Fain also has accused Volkswagen of union-busting tactics. In January, 33 U.S. senators called on 13 nonunion auto companies to refrain from union-busting and commit to neutrality in any organizing effort.


Volkswagen has denied claims of union-busting, intimidation or illegal violations of worker rights at the plant.


“Labor representation is part of our company’s culture,” the automaker said in a statement. “We respect our workers’ right to decide the question of union representation. And we remain committed to providing accurate information that helps inform them of their rights and choices.”


The UAW has brought unfair labor practices complaints against Volkswagen for alleged actions in Chattanooga, saying the automaker has been “threatening, restraining and coercing employees from exercising their rights,” which the company also denied.


A new National Labor Relations Board vote would be the third since 2014 at the plant that builds the Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport and ID.4 SUVs.


The UAW lost earlier votes to unionize the VW workers in 2014 and 2019.


In 2019, the vote was 833 against the union to 776 for the UAW, or 51.8% to 48.2%. In the 2014 election, the margin was 53.2% against the union and 46.8% for the UAW.


The UAW won a vote of 152 maintenance, or skilled trades, workers shortly after the 2014 vote by a margin of 108-44. But VW appealed and refused to bargain, stating it believed the production workers needed to be included.


The union later asked to disclaim the skilled trades workers vote in order to clear the way for the 2019 election.