Mar 25, 2024 - Economy

UAW, Volkswagen agree to unionization vote at Tennessee plant

Flags flying over a factory with the sign of Volkswagen

Flags fly above the entrance to the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on March 20. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Volkswagen and the UAW have agreed to hold a vote on the union's bid to organize the automaker's plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said Monday.

Why it matters: With more than 4,000 workers, the factory would be the only non-Detroit Three automotive assembly plant in the U.S. to be unionized.

Driving the news: The vote will take place April 17-19, the NLRB said.

  • Ballots will be counted beginning at 8pm April 19, with results likely available within a few hours.
  • The UAW and VW agreed to forgo a pre-election hearing, putting the vote on the fast track.
  • Eligible voters include full-time and part-time production and maintenance employees at what is VW's only plant in the U.S.

Context: The UAW has lost two previous votes to organize the Chattanooga factory — in 2014 and 2019 — both times by narrow margins.

  • Factories in the South have historically been extremely difficult places for union organizers to gain a foothold.
  • VW has vowed to remain neutral during the campaign. However, a VW official said "neutral doesn't mean silent" and added that the company would call out any "misinformation" in the UAW's organizing campaign.

Yes, but: The union is hoping that this time is different after it won record contracts in 2023 from General Motors, Ford and Stellantis following a historic strike.

What's next: The outcome of the vote will set the tone for the UAW's campaign to organize other automakers, including Tesla, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai.

Go deeper: Tesla and the UAW are careening toward a showdown over unionization

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