Following its recent six-week-long targeted strike against Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis, the United Auto Workers (UAW) reached a tentative agreement with all three automakers, which has since been ratified by UAW workers, effectively ending the strike and setting the course for the next four-plus years. However, the union isn’t planning to rest on its laurels as it waits for the next series of contract negotiations, and is instead launching a campaign focused on organizing automakers that build vehicles in the U.S. yet aren’t represented by a union. That list includes the likes of Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, and Volkswagen – each of which recently gave their factory workers a raise following the UAW’s contract negotiations with the Big Three – and now, VW, specifically, is facing a new campaign from the union in Tennessee.
Volkswagen’s only U.S. plant is located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which is precisely where the UAW has been focusing its efforts to organize in recent weeks. The union recently revealed that more than 1,000 workers at that plant – or around 30 percent – have signed union authorization cards in less than a week, which it calls a “breakthrough” in its efforts to unionize 13 total automotive companies in the U.S.
“People are standing up like never before,” said Steve Cochran, a skilled team member and a leader of the workers building the union at Volkswagen. “There are a lot of young workers in the plant now and this generation wants respect. They’re not okay with mistreatment by management. They see what’s happening at Starbucks and Amazon. They know that standing up to join the union is how you win fair treatment, fair pay, and a better life.”
“I come from a union family, I know the difference the union makes,” said Drew Hall, a production team member in paint. “My father grew up here, then moved to Michigan and got a job with Ford. He had to retire early with a disability and the union made sure he got his full pension and retiree health care. He moved back to Chattanooga and lived a good life for 25 more years. The union made that possible. It’s a better way of life.”