Help Me Take Next 2 Weeks Off to Focus on UAW at VW in Chattanooga

Community members rally on behalf of Volkswagen workers seeking to unionize in Chattanooga (Chattanooga Labor Council)

Our goal:

$1,910 / $3,000

Donate Here!


While the corporate media has largely been ignoring the union election at Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Payday has been leading the pack.

Payday has done 14 stories on the union election at Volkswagen in Chattanooga, more than another national publication and the impact is starting to show. (See the full list of stories we’ve done on UAW at VW here)

The Washington Post cited Payday work on the lead unionbuster in Chattanooga, Rick Berman. Tennesse’s USA Today Network Newspapers, the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the Knoxville News-Sentinel, and the Tennessean (the three largest newspapers in the state), also cited Payday’s work in an article on the UAW-VW election in Chattanooga

For my 33rd birthday, I asked my readers to help pay for a trip for me to go to Chattanooga to report on the historic union election at Volkswagen. We raised $1,500, which fully covers my travel and food costs.

Now, I am hoping to raise another $1,500 to help cover the lost freelance wages I will incur by taking the next two weeks off to focus solely on the story in Chattanooga.

I covered the union election there in 2014 when the UAW lost by 43 votes. I lived there for a year while working on a book about labor struggles in the South and got to build a deep network of sources.

This time around, I have written 14 articles so far on the lead up to the union vote this year; more than any other national outlet. Despite having raised only $1,400 from our readers for this work, we were able to beat the whole media system because of your solidarity. (See the full list of stories we’ve done on UAW at VW here)

However, outside of crowdfunding my own reporting through Payday, I haven’t been able to find an outside media outlet to help share the enormous cost of my reporting.

While media outlets have plenty of money for 2020 election coverage, hardly any are dedicating resources to cover the historic union election at Volkswagen. A win there would open the door for union organizing at foreign transplants in the South.

So I am hoping to crowdfund a trip down there to cover the union election at Volkswagen on June 12th-14th. In order to fully pay for the trip, I’ll have to raise upwards of $1,300 just to pay logistics not let alone pay myself so I am asking you as readers to help.

Already, using my own personal money, I bought a plane ticket. However, to fund the trip, we will have to pay for:

  • a plane ticket ($200)
  • rental car, insurance, and gas ($350)
  • lodging for a week ($500)
  • food and incidentals for a week ($250)
  • Two weeks of work ($1,500)

So pass the hat, donate, and help us get down there to cover this vital story.

And thanks for all the birthday wishes.

In Solidarity,


About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. A native of Pittsburgh, Elk grew up in a UE union family. Elk was the only American reporter in the room with Lula on the morning of the election & traveled with him to the Oval Office. 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 attended journalism school at PUC-Rio de Janeiro. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburgh fluently. His email is [email protected]

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