Help Cover UAW Elections at VW & Mercedes in the South

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In just 3 months in 2023, Payday Report has filed 19 dispatches and stories on the UAW’s effort to organize at non-union employers particularly in the South, more than any other outlet on the left. 

Next week, we will arrive in Chattanooga to cover the historic UAW election at Volkswagen there set to take place from April 17th to 19th.  (See our viral 5 page analysis of why this UAW election is different than the other two that I covered at Volkswagen in 2014 and 2019)

We will likely spend the rest of the summer on the road covering UAW elections in the South and we are gonna need to raise a lot of money to do it. 

Mercedes workers filed for a union election last week. They will likely have one by the end of April or early May. 

Toyota workers in Troy, Missouri say they are close to having a majority of workers sign up at their plant. Hyundai workers in Montgomery, Alabama have already gone public with a union campaign and are making steady progress. 

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 titled “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 according to Payday Report’s Strike Tracker, workers are mobilizing in new ways, as we saw during the success of the “Stand Up Strike”.

We have hired local camera crew in Chattanooga to help us cover the Volkswagen union election and are hoping to hire one in Alabama to help us, but we need to secure the money to

A win in Chattanooga will open the door for organizing and we are gonna need a lot of money to cover it. 

Donate to help us raise $5,000 to cover the first two UAW elections at Mercedes and Volkswagen. We will likely need to ask for more as more organizing drives pop up, but help us cover these first two.

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]