Help Cover UAW Election at VW in Chattanooga

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From April 17th to 19th, a historic union election will be underway at Volkswagen in Chattanooga. 

If the UAW wins in Chattanooga, it will open the door to organizing at non-union auto plants throughout the South. 

Currently, a majority of Mercedes workers in Alabama have signed up to join the UAW, and an election is expected soon. Public union drives have been announced at Hyundai in Alabama and Toyota in Missouri. 

A win in Chattanooga could inspire other non-union workers to fight for the same kind of benefits that non-union workers won in the historic Stand Up Strike. 

The UAW has tried twice to unionize at Chattanooga and failed both in 2014 and 2019. This campaign feels very different. (Read my analysis of how things changed there over the last decade). 

I was there and covered both those campaigns in 2014 and 2019. (Read my 4,000-word analysis of the 2014 defeat entitled “Toxic Masculinity & the Anti-Union Campaign at Volkswagen.”)

In 2016, I used my NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing at POLITICO and moved to Chattanooga. It was clear that things were beginning to change in the South, and I shared this inspiring story in my coverage of the third union attempt at Volkswagen. 

While living in Chattanooga, I tracked and covered the efforts of the minority union to keep the union fight alive there for more than a decade. (See my 2019 story on how the minority union at Volkswagen in Chattanooga continued to fight)

Something about this election in 2024 seems very different than those previous union elections. After the massive strike wave that saw over 3,000 strikes since the beginning of the pandemic, workers are mobilizing in new ways, as we saw during the success of the “Stand Up Strike.”

(Read my entire 5-page analysis “How Things Changed in Chattanooga” over the past decade of the union fight there)

This is a crucial fight to cover, and it could inspire other workers to unionize elsewhere. I would like to hire a crew of local video journalists to tell the story of workers fighting back. 

I’m the only national labor reporter who has covered all three union attempts, and I desperately want to be there to cover what could be a historic union victory. Payday Report can provide coverage that no other publication in the country can. 

All of this is expensive. It will require paying the video journalists, airfare for me, hotel costs, and food, which is going to be important because we’re going to need it to work. 

Payday will need $2,000 to cover this historic union election fully. We must raise all of this money before the union election. 

Donate to help us cover this historic union victory. 

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]