UAW workers in Chattanooga

Workers at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee plant hold a banner that reads, "Stand Up for Communities and Against Corporate Greed."

(Photo: UAW/YouTube)

'We Want to Be Heard': Chattanooga Volkswagen Workers File for Vote to Join UAW

"A reckoning is coming," said a strategist for UAW president Shawn Fain. "Workers are standing up—and they are going to win."

Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee filed a petition Monday with National Labor Relations Board formally requesting an election to join the United Auto Workers, which is campaigning aggressively to organize nonunion plants in the U.S. South and across the country.

The UAW tried and narrowly failed to organize Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant in 2014 and 2019, but the union's historic strike and contract victories at the Big Three automakers last year emboldened its unionization efforts.

"We want to be heard," Crystal Jenkins, a logistics worker at the Chattanooga plant, says in a video released by the UAW on Monday. "The reason I'm voting yes for the union is to have a voice."

Volkswagen is one of more than a dozen nonunion automakers that the UAW is targeting as part of what's been described as "the largest organizing drive in modern American history."

"A reckoning is coming," Chris Brooks, a strategist for UAW president Shawn Fain, wrote on social media. "Workers are standing up—and they are going to win.

The UAW said Monday that "a supermajority" of the more than 1,000 workers at the Chattanooga plant—Volkswagen's only assembly facility in the U.S.—signed union cards in just 100 days, a sign of broad support for the organizing effort.

"I come from a UAW family, so I've seen how having our union enables us to make life better on the job and off," said Yolanda Peoples, a production team member in assembly. "We are a positive force in the plant. When we win our union, we'll be able to bargain for a safer workplace, so people can stay on the job and the company can benefit from our experience. When my father retired as a UAW member, he had something to fall back on. VW workers deserve the same."

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