UAW says VW workers at Tennessee plant file for union election

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A VW EV ID.4 cross-over at Volkswagen of America plant in Chattanooga, TN, June 8, 2022.

Michael Wayland | CNBC

DETROIT – Volkswagen workers at a plant in Tennessee have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board for a vote to join the United Auto Workers, the union announced Monday.

The filing comes after a “supermajority of Volkswagen workers have signed union cards in just 100 days,” the union said – marking a major milestone in the labor group’s organizing drives of non-unionized auto plants in the U.S.

The UAW has previously failed to organize foreign-based automakers in the U.S. Most recently, plants with Volkswagen and Nissan fell short of the support needed to unionize. In 2019, VW workers at the Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant rejected union representation in an 833-776 vote. 

The Chattanooga plant is Volkswagen’s only U.S. assembly plant and employs over 4,000 autoworkers who would be eligible to vote for union representation.

A spokesperson for VW did not immediately respond for comment. The automaker has previously said it respects the right of its employees to organize, however it also will combat any information it believes to be misleading or wrong.

VW production workers at the plant earn between $23.40 per hour and $32.40 per hour, with a four-year grow-in period to top wages.

VW’s hourly wages are lower than those the UAW negotiated last year with the Detroit automakers, which this year range from about $25 an hour to $36 an hour for production workers, including estimated cost of living adjustments, or COLA. By the end of the UAW contracts, top wages are expected to surpass $42 an hour for production workers.

VW is one of 13 non-union automakers in the U.S. that the UAW set its sights on late last year after securing record contracts with the Detroit automakers.

The drive covers nearly 150,000 autoworkers across BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Lucid, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Rivian, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.

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