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UAW Gains Foothold in VW’s Chattanooga Plant

Skilled trades team votes to join union.

by on Dec.07, 2015

The UAW gained a foothold in the South after the skilled trades group voted to join the union.

After years of trying, the United Auto Workers won a breakthrough representation election at the Volkswagen AG plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, when workers in the skilled trades voted to join the union, putting a crack in the nonunion wall around the transplants in the Southern United States for the first time.

In an election spanning two days last week, 152 of the 164 skilled trades’ employees, such as electricians and millwrights, cast ballots in the election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB said 71% of employees – 108 – voted for recognition by UAW Local 42.

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The vote came nearly 20 months after the union was narrowly defeated in an election involving all hourly employees at the plant. VW intends to appeal the result, claiming any vote should have included all 1,450 hourly manufacturing employees, not just the skilled trades. The skilled trades unit comprises roughly 11% of the plant’s hourly workforce. (more…)

UAW May Get Chance for Vote at VW Plant

Move could prove critical for union’s future.

by on Apr.05, 2013

Workers at the new VW plant in Tennessee may soon vote on union representation.

The United Auto Workers appears to be edging closer to an up or down vote on union representation at the new Volkswagen AG manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee thanks to support from the German Metal Workers union, IG Metall.

IG Metall representatives at Volkswagen, including a member of the company’s supervisory board, have come out in favor of United Auto Workers representation in Chattanooga in a letter that was distributed to workers at the U.S. plant. Union representatives sit on the supervisory boards of German companies and have a critical role in setting company policy.

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With VW’s top American executive also showing a willingness to consider a union bid this could be a breakthrough moment for the struggling union. It has seen membership shrink massively in recent decades due both to downsizing by the Detroit-based Big Three and its inability to organize at foreign-owned “transplant” assembly lines.


Actor Danny Glover Leading Protest Against Nissan

Group hopes to pressure maker to unionize Mississippi plant.

by on Jan.14, 2013

Actor and activist Danny Glover aims to lend some star power to the protest.

Actor Danny Glover spoke at a demonstration outside the North American International Auto Show today, but attendance was sparse, so leaders of the protest planned to try again this afternoon.

The group is protesting what they allege to be the poor treatment of workers at the Nissan plant in Canton, Miss.

The protest is paired with an organizing drive launched last spring at Canton by the United Auto Workers union which has struggled for decades to try to represent the growing number of foreign-owned “transplant” assembly plants in the U.S. The UAW is laying the groundwork to line up community support for a vote among the plants 5,000 production workers and has reactivated an old alliance with civil rights activists in the Mississippi Delta.

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“With Nissan, you have to look beneath the shine. Nissan builds great vehicles, but the company should respect the rights and dignity of its Mississippi workforce,” the Rev. Isiac Jackson, president of the General Missionary Baptist State Convention of Mississippi, said in a statement released Friday.


Will Nissan Be UAW’s First Target?

Organizing “transplants” critical to union’s future.

by on Dec.08, 2011

UAW President Bob King knows it will be difficult to organize the transplants.

As important as it was to win new contracts from Detroit’s Big Three over the summer, United Auto Workers Union President Bob King has made it clear that the “most important” goal during his tenure will be to begin the long-stalled process of organizing the foreign-owned “transplant” assembly lines that now dot the American landscape.

In the more than quarter century since the first, a Honda plant in Marysville, Ohio, opened, only three have voluntarily accepted the UAW – all because they were U.S.- Japanese joint ventures, one of which has now closed. Efforts to organize the other foreign-owned factories have failed, so far.

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Now, it seems, the UAW is ready to try again, and while King told the Associated Press there’s no deadline nor official target, the wire report says it is “crystal clear” to union leaders that they need begin by targeting Japan’s second-largest automaker, Nissan.

It wouldn’t be the first time.  But an earlier drive at the maker, which operates assembly plants in Mississippi and Tennessee – the latter near its U.S. headquarters – fell flat when workers voted the union down. This time, the UAW appears to be hoping to tap worker frustration at the Canton, Mississippi plant where it claims the company is committing what the union described as both civil and human rights violations.