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Photo: Erik Schelzig/AP

Today concludes a historic vote in Tennessee, where autoworkers are determining whether the Chattanooga VW plant will be the first foreign-owned auto plant in the South to unionize.

Why it matters: If the United Auto Workers prevail "in unionizing the plant, it will be a historic win for a labor organization that has spent decades trying to build influence outside of Detroit and represent more factory workers across the car-manufacturing sector," the Wall Street Journal reports.

  • "The union’s membership, which hit a peak of 1.5 million workers in 1979, has fallen to about 400,000 last year," according to the WSJ.
  • "While the foreign-car companies build millions of vehicles each year in the U.S., none of their assembly plants," is unionized, per the WSJ.

Be smart: This story line has been running for two decades, Axios' Joann Muller says.

  • "I’ve written that southern toehold headline for 15 or 20 years. Usually politicians have their thumb on the scale. Last time at VW, it was [then-Sen. Bob Corker]. He’s gone now, but I still would be surprised if this unionization vote passes."

The bottom line: Toyota and Nissan's major manufacturing operations lie in the deep South, in Alabama and Mississippi, which lack Tennessee’s history of some unionization, Reuters notes.

  • Cox Automotive analyst Michelle Krebs tells Reuters: A"win in the Deep South is not in the cards."

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”