Chattanooga Auto Workers Organize for a Union

As early as April 29 or 30th, Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, could vote to unionize. The United Auto Workers (UAW) has filed to have an election representing all 1,709 of the Chattanooga plant’s hourly employees. If they succeed, this would be a big advance for the UAW, giving them a foothold in the south—a region undergoing a boom in manufacturing and other sec-tors, but where union member-ship rates (and wages) lag behind other areas of the country.

The UAW attempted to organize Chattanooga auto workers in both 2013 and 2015. In both cases, right-wing politicians in the state carried out lying anti-union campaigns, and when the election finally went before Trump appointees in the National Labor Review Board, it got struck down. This shows how the politicians representing the ultra rich conspire with companies, rig political institutions, and do whatever it takes to undermine the struggles of working people.

This time around the Volkswagen bosses have instituted a disinformation campaign which re-quires workers to attend meetings while supervisors read off anti-union talking points from the company’s newsletter. They are trying to sow division by advocating for merit-based bonuses that depend on competition among the workers. Some workers reported receiving bonuses between $500 and $1000 last year but they were quick to point out that VW reported an operating profit of $15.8 billion in the same time. By that account, there’s plenty of wealth to be shared among the workers!

Despite the billions of dollars that the capitalist class spends spreading misinformation to keep us down, the popularity of unions is at a 15-year high. A recent Gallup poll found that 62% of U.S. respondents support unions, including 60 percent in the South. Unions are even more popular among people aged 18-35, with 65 percent seeing unions as a good thing. All this suggests that the prospects of worker organizing are getting better.