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UAW loses election at VW Chattanooga by narrow margin

18 June, 2019Just as in 2014, right wing politicians, pressure groups, the company and union busting law firms invested all they could to prevent IndustriALL affiliate UAW from winning the union elections at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA.

In the end, the difference between a unionized workplace and one without real worker representation was narrow: 833 employees voted against union representation and 776 in favour, a difference of merely 29 votes.

The UAW and the global union movement felt more optimistic this time around than in 2014, but the bullying tactics of the massive anti-union movement in southern US turned out to be stronger.

For nine weeks, VW employees were told that a yes vote meant not only a severe threat of job losses, but also economic decline for the state of Tennessee and the entire US South.

Union-busting propaganda is not only unacceptable, but also rare in the world of Volkswagen where 121 out 122 global manufacturing sites are unionized and collective bargaining and social dialogue are a natural part of the daily proceedings. But for many years, Volkswagen in the US has been aggressively anti-union, and pays large sums of money to union-busting law firms instead of investing in employees and products. And in the run-up of these elections, VW was anything but neutral.

Valter Sanches, IndustriALL general secretary, says:

“We were so close to a victory and we will continue to stand with our colleagues at VW Chattanooga. We will not let these systematic anti-union policies win.

IndustriALL Global Union strongly condemns this behaviour and stands by the decision to suspend the global framework agreement with Volkswagen in January this year, as a strong sign of protest.

Georg Leutert, IndustriALL automotive director, says:

“The US South is probably one of the most anti-union regions in the world. For us, this is an incentive to double our efforts together with our US affiliates, as the workers deserve the same rights and decent working conditions as workers in other parts of the world.”

IndustriALL and its affiliates stand in solidarity with the Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga. More than 50 messages of solidarity from more than 20 countries were sent to UAW local 42 in Chattanooga; letters of support, videos and photos from all of the VW plants in company’s home country, Germany.