Tennessee Volkswagen Plant Votes to Unionize

April 23, 2024

Late last week, the workers at the Chattanooga, TN, Volkswagen plant voted to join the UAW, making it the first automotive plant in the U.S. South—other than GM’s Spring Hill, TN, plant—to unionize since the 1940s. Workers at the plant had previously voted against unionizing—in 2014 and 2019. Of the 4326 workers eligible to vote, more than 3600 cast ballots over the three-day election, according to the National Labor Relations Board and as reported by The Tennessean.

The ratification in favor of unionizing occurred despite strong opposition from six Southern state governors, including Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee. Lee had previously penned a letter urging workers to reject unions.

The ratification is considered a first but significant step toward expanding the UAW in auto plants outside of the Detroit Three, where many of those states have passed legislation called “right-to-work,” in favor of “employment at will,” which allows employers and employee to terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause. 

The next southern-U.S. automaker plant to vote on unionization is the Mercedes-Benz facility near Tuscaloosa, AL—that comes mid-May.

Technologies: Management


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