Tennessee Fastest Growing Union State Since Pandemic as VW Faces 3rd Union Votes – Teamsters Double Strike Benefits – 300,000 Finns Strike

Workers rally to support unionization attempts during a failed union drive in 2019. (Chattanooga Labor Council)

Folks, 

Greetings from Rio de Janeiro, where we are finishing editing some videos about the violence workers face at Carnaval. 

Donate to help us pay for the video editing. 

Tennessee is Fastest Growing State for Unions 

Yesterday, the UAW announced that a majority of Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga had signed cards to join the UAW. 

The union narrowly lost two bitterly close union elections in Chattanooga at Volkswagen in 2014 and again in 2019. Now, after winning substantial gains in the “Stand Up Strike,” the union hopes to have more success. 

The union could also be helped by the fact that unions are now more popular in Tennessee. Union membership grew by 57.5% in the three years since the pandemic began. 

“We’ve had the fastest growth in union membership of any state in the country, which I think is a very positive sign for organized labor,” Tennessee AFL-CIO President Billy Dycus told the Chattanooga Times Free-Press. “I think coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, workers have taken more of an interest in having a say in the workplace, and we’re seeing more interest in unions, especially among many young people. The UAW and other unions are trying to meet the demand.”

For more, check out the Chattanooga Times Free-Press. 

African-American Women Warming Up to Union in Chattanooga 

One of the factors helping the UAW this time is the role of African Americans, particularly women, in driving union support. 

“Momentum this time is way better than the first two times we’ve tried to unionize,” Volkswagen worker Yolanda Peoples told NPR. “Among African American women, there has been a boost as far as getting it organized this time. I see a big change.”

Peoples credited the UAW with putting forward African-American women as spokespeople during the “Stand Up Strike” in playing a role in this. 

“I believe that watching the Big Three is one of the things that changed their minds,” Peoples told NPR. “And actually seeing more African American women standing up with the UAW too has been a changing factor.”

For more, check out NPR. 

Help Us Cover UAW’s Third Attempt to Unionize in Chattanooga at Volkswagen 

In 2016, Payday was founded in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with the donations of our readers while I was covering attempts to unionize at Volkswagen. Since the first attempt to unionize at Volkswagen, I have written over 50 articles on the struggle. 

I am returning to the United States in March and hope to get down to Chattanooga almost immediately to cover what’s happening at the plant down there. Meanwhile, I will make calls and monitor the situation in Chattanooga while providing regular updates for yinz. 

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

Hollywood Strikes Inspire Film Workers in the United Kingdom & France to Strike

Earlier this year, Payday analyzed that over 8,000 entertainment workers in 49 campaigns joined unions following the Hollywood strikes. 

The strikes continue to reverberate overseas as UK & French film and entertainment workers are showing a new willingness to push for a strike in their own nations. From Variety: 

Due to local trade union laws, Bectu members could not strike. But the British union is fighting its own battles, having recently issued additional guidance on drama rates alongside the producers’ union Pact. This is a follow-up to an agreement signed at the end of 2022 following months of tense negotiations. Meanwhile, English National Opera members – also part of the U.K. performers union Equity — were on the verge of industrial action after job cuts were announced. The strike was only called off last week after they reached a last-minute interim agreement.

In France, some TV crews have been striking intermittently since the beginning of the year, and, according to Studinger, German crew and actors’ unions are currently negotiating new collective agreements. Studinger, who has been in his position since 2009, says there has been a renewed commitment to collective bargaining agreements – and striking if necessary – in recent years.

“There’s a new generation of workers who are willing to stand up for better working conditions, shorter and better working time arrangements,” he says. “And I think that’s a significant change from even five years ago.”

For more, check out Variety. 

300,000 Finns Strike Against Labor Rollback 

In Finland, over 300,000 workers have gone out on strike this week to protest the proposed rollback of workers’ rights in that nation. 

“The government’s plan is cold-blooded. First, the right to strike will be severely restricted, and then tough cuts are pushed through,” Jarkko Eloranta, president of Finland’s largest trade union association SAK, told Reuters.

For more, check out Reuters. 

Teamsters Double Strike Benefits Ahead of Potential Anheuser-Busch Workers Strike

Finally, as more than 5,000 workers at Anheuser-Busch move towards a strike on March 1st, the Teamsters have decided to double their strike benefits to $ 1,000 a week, an unprecedented move by any union. 

“Anheuser-Busch needs to respect and reward the Teamsters who make the company the billions of dollars it is now wasting on glitzy Super Bowl ads and greedy stock buybacks. Workers are fired up and ready to fight back. This increase in strike benefits makes sure our members are protected,” said Jeff Padellaro, Director of the Teamsters Brewery, Bakery, and Soft Drink Conference.

For more, check out the Teamsters website. 

Alright folks, I gotta get back to editing video, but we will have more tomorrow. Keep sending tips, story ideas, and comments to [email protected] 

Donate to help us keep covering the fight here in Brasil as well as back home in the United States. Please, if you can, sign up as one of our 773 recurring donors today. 

Love & Solidarity, 

Melk 

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing over 1,800 stories from 46 states, 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 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]