At Volkswagen's only U.S. assembly plant, in Chattanooga, TN, more than half of the workforce have signed cards to join the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, less than 60 days after workers announced a campaign to do so.
Chattanooga is the first non-union auto plant to declare majority support for unionization among its workers. The movement gained momentum following the UAW's victories in the Stand Up Strike against the Big Three, which have inspired auto workers nationwide to advocate for better working conditions and rights.
“The excitement has been building, and now that we have reached 50%, it is just continuing to grow. New organizers are joining each day spreading our effort to every area of the plant,” said Zach Costello, a Volkswagen worker and trainer in the plant’s proficiency room. “Just because we are in the South, it does not mean that our work is worth less, that our benefits should be diminished, or that we don’t have rights. All workers should have a voice, and I hope the success that we’re having here is showing workers across the country what is possible.”
“We realized that the working conditions could be a lot better,” said Victor Vaughn, a logistics team member at Volkswagen. “And the employees, we don’t have a say in any of the decisions that are going on within the plant. We’re not being recognized as a major resource for the company. We have a very important job, to put a vehicle on the road that our families are buying, that our kids are riding in. We take pride in what we do, but we don’t have a voice in how we operate. That’s why we’re taking the lead.”
The Chattanooga facility, which employs more than 4,000 workers, is not alone in its quest for union representation. Similar initiatives are underway at other Southern auto plants, including Mercedes-Benz in Vance, AL, and Hyundai in Montgomery, AL.
For more information, visit UAW.org/join.