VW workers vote to unionise in major win for labour – BBC News


Volkswagen workers in the US have voted to join the United Autoworkers Union (UAW) in a massive victory for organised labour in the US.

Workers in Tennessee voted 73% in favour, according to the union’s unofficial vote count on Friday night.

It handed the UAW its first election win at a car factory in the American South in decades.

Two prior votes at the factory, including in 2019, had failed, after stiff political opposition.

But attitudes toward organised labour appear to be shifting.

The US has seen an increase in strikes and petitions to join unions since the pandemic, drawing in Hollywood actors, Starbucks baristas, tech contractors, healthcare workers, and even college basketball players.

Workers at the only VW factory the US, in Chattanooga, will now be represented by the union to negotiate collectively over issues such as pay and working conditions.

Analysts said the outcome could inspire employees at other factories in the region to take similar steps.

Another UAW election is scheduled for May at a Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama, and the union has begun a push at other factories, as well.

UAW boss Shawn Fain last year said the UAW would target 13 foreign-owned factories in the South, in a bid to bring in new members to the organisation, whose numbers have steadily dwindled.

The plans aimed to seize on the momentum of the organisation’s headline-drawing strike last year that won significant pay increases and other benefits for union workers at General Motors, Ford and Stellantis.

But it marked a risky push for the organisation, which is closely associated with the Democratic party, into a part of the country that is both staunchly Republican and historically hostile to unions.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, a Republican, was among the political leaders to speak out against the UAW effort.

But unlike in 2019, when the governor addressed workers at a meeting hosted by Volkswagen, the political opposition was more muted this time and Volkswagen said it was remaining officially neutral in the fight.

Before the election, analysts said the UAW had its best shot in years at winning, noting new leadership had refreshed the reputation and approach of the organisation, which had been mired in corruption scandals.

UAW membership peaked in 1979 at almost 1.5 million.

Today, it represents more than 400,000 active workers across a wide range of sectors, including hospitals and universities, with more than 140,000 members employed at Ford, GM and Stellantis.



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