Help Me Fly to Chattanooga to Cover the UAW Election at Volkswagen

UAW filed for a union election today with 70% of the plant signing up to join the union. (UAW)

Recurring Donation

One Time Donation

Earlier today, the UAW announced that they had filed for a union election at Volkswagen in Chattanooga with over 70%. The union lost twice in both 2014 and 2019. 

With Mercedes workers in Alabama nearing a union drive and drives underway at Toyota in Missouri and Hyundai in Alabama, a win in Chattanooga could open the door to organizing in the South. (See our coverage today of what the announcement in Chattanooga means)

I was there to cover those defeats in Chattanooga in 2014 and 2019. Now, I hope to get back in time to cover this union election. 

However, I’m in Brazil and finishing a film shoot on my documentary “Marielle Vive” about the assassination of Rio City Councilwoman Marielle Franco, whom I attended college with at PUC-RIo.

To get back to the United States a few weeks early, I will likely have to pay fees to flight change fees. The National Labor Relations Board has yet to set an election date, but it is expected to happen in the next few weeks and I want to get back to cover it.

Donate to help us change this flight and get back to Chattanooga as soon as a union election is called. 

Over the past decade, Payday has covered the last two union elections in Chattanooga, and we need your help to cover it once again (Donate here)

I first went to Chattanooga in 2013 to cover the union election. By the end of the union struggle, I had covered for the New York Times how union corruption led to the union’s defeat at Volkswagen. 

In 2014, the UAW narrowly lost a bitter union election at Volkswagen by a margin of 626-712. (See my on-the-ground long-form “The Battle for Chattanooga; Toxic Masculinity, Ableism, and the Anti-Union Campaign at Volkswagen”). 

Eventually, in 2016, I moved to Chattanooga for a year to found Payday Report and cover unionization in the South. 

After a wildcat strike before Christmas in 2018, which successfully defeated an attempt to reduce paid sick days, the union tried to push for a new union election in June of 2019.

During the 2019 election, Payday filed 17 dispatches from Chattanooga. However, the local could never build enough support to win a majority in a union election, failing in their second union election in 2019 by a margin of 776-833. (See my analysis of the brutal union busting that killed the drive and how the UAW planned to continue to fight on)

After 11 years of covering defeats and brave efforts to continue organizing at the plant, I would love to be there when they win. The national union date has yet to be set, but a union election will be held in the next month or two. 

Now, with a new union attempt, we hope to once again return to Chattanooga to cover it when a union election is set. 

Donate to help us cover UAW’s 3rd attempt to unionize at Volkswagen in Chattanooga. If you can, sign up as one of our 773 recurring donors.

Love & Solidarity,


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]