UAW Considering Unionization at Tennessee Volkswagen Plant

Workers at Volkswagen’s only US plant are taking steps to unionize, a move announced by the United Auto Workers (UAW) on December 7. The UAW reported that over 1,000 workers, representing more than 30 percent of the plant’s total workforce, have signed union authorization cards. The plant, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is the city’s largest employer, with approximately 5,500 employees. Workers at the facility are responsible for building several Volkswagen models, including the Atlas, Atlas Sport, and the electric ID.4.

In an effort to remain competitive in the blue-collar workforce, Volkswagen had previously announced an 11 percent pay raise for production workers at the Chattanooga assembly plant, with starting hourly wages now at $23.42. The company has also introduced a compressed wage progression timeline beginning next year. Despite these efforts to attract workers, the UAW’s campaign to target non-unionized autoworkers at various companies has gained traction, with the Chattanooga plant being a focal point of the initiative.

The UAW website states, “Volkswagen workers have taken the first big step to form our union. In the last three years, we’ve seen VW make nearly a trillion dollars in revenue and $78 billion in profit, but we haven’t seen our fair share in Chattanooga. Now we’re ready to fight for a better job, a better life and a better future.”

Regarding the unionization efforts, Volkswagen expressed pride in the work environment it has created in Chattanooga, emphasizing an attractive compensation program, comprehensive benefits, and development opportunities. The company also acknowledged its respect for the rights of workers to determine who should represent their interests in the workplace.

This isn’t the first time workers at the Chattanooga plant have attempted to unionize; two previous attempts in 2019 and 2014 were unsuccessful, with the majority of workers voting against unionization. However, this time around, UAW leaders believe that enthusiasm for unionization among the workforce is higher than before, with an emphasis on the importance of fair treatment, pay, and overall quality of life.

Similar efforts have been largely discouraged at Amazon, which also has a significant presence in Chattanooga. Failed unionization attempts at both Volkswagen and Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama, plant have not deterred Volkswagen workers from pushing ahead with their drive to unionize.

The UAW’s unionization efforts at Volkswagen come amid the company’s substantial profits, which the UAW claims have not been properly reflected in workers’ wages. Workers have expressed concerns about job allocation, safety, forced overtime, and a lack of time off. The recent discontent and unionization efforts follow the UAW’s successful Stand Up Strike at major automakers, which resulted in gains for the union.

As workers at the Chattanooga plant continue to pursue unionization, they cite safety, working conditions, and the desire for fair treatment as their primary motivations. Overall, the growing discontent and unionization efforts at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga reflect a larger trend of workers across various industries demanding better working conditions and equitable treatment.


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