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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

Ina Fried, author of Login
39 mins ago - Technology

Intel CEO wants to compete against Apple

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger hasn't given up on the idea of the Mac once again using Intel chips, but he acknowledges it will probably be years before he gets that chance.

  • In the meantime, he is focused on powering Windows machines that give Apple CEO Tim Cook a run for his money.

Why it matters: In getting pushed out of the Mac, Intel not only lost a customer, but picked up a new rival.

44 mins ago - Health

Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, in an "Axios on HBO" interview, said he's reluctant to withhold federal funding from states that won't enforce school mask mandates because he doesn't want to hurt students.

Why it matters: Cardona's comments suggest there are limits to how far the Biden administration will go in pressuring states to adopt universal masking — or vaccine mandates.

Mike Allen, author of AM
55 mins ago - Axios on HBO

GOP senator smacks Trump

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told “Axios on HBO” he’s not sure former President Donald Trump would win the Republican nomination if he ran in 2024 — a rare voice of criticism from within the party.

  • When I raised the conventional wisdom that Trump would be expected to win the nomination, Cassidy jumped in.“
  • I don't know that,” the senator said during our interview in Chalmette, La.