UAW Runs from Politics in VW Fight – WaPo: 2/3rd VW Workers Pro-Union – UAW Centering Black Workers in Fight

In the closing days of the UAW's election at VW in Chattanooga, workers are being bombarded with anti-union propaganda (Erin O. Smith/AP)


Greetings from Chattanooga, where I am recovering from a 12-hour flight from Rio de Janeiro and getting into the action here. 

Big thanks to all of our readers, who donated to get us here. 

Tennessee Governor Forms Alliances with 5 Other Southern Governors to Fight UAW

Today, the Governor of Tennessee announced a new alliance with Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

The Governors are warning that unionization will lead to factories closing in their states. 

“No one wants to hear this, but it’s the ugly reality” said the governors in a jointly released statement. “We’ve seen it play out this way every single time a foreign automaker plant has been unionized; not one of those plants remains in operation. And we are seeing it in the fallout of the Detroit Three strike with those automakers rethinking investments and cutting jobs.” 

Read the full statement here

UAW Shying Away from Politics in Volkswagen Unionizing Blitz 

Over 4,300 Volkswagen workers will begin to vote in a three day National Labor Relations Board election here in Chattanooga. 

Nationwide, the UAW has grown its role in politics, recently becoming one of the first national unions to call for a ceasefire in Gaza

However, in the closing days of the election, local TV ads and billboards are blasting the UAW with messages like “UAW = Biden.” President Biden previously endorsed the UAW efforts to unionize at Volkswagen. 

The ads are warning members repeatedly that their dues money will be spent on helping Biden’s election campaign. 

“UAW membership nationwide is at its lowest point since 2009. Maybe the UAW should care more about its members than politics?” said anti-union groups in online ads blanketing Chattanooga. 

With the Volkswagen plant located in “Trump Country” in Eastern Tennessee, UAW activists have responded by distancing themselves from the political function of their union. 

“The biggest anti-campaign right now is trying to make this a political thing and there are political ramifications,” Volkswagen worker Issac Meadows told Payday Report in an interview. “However, this vote is not about politics. This vote is about the workers, the worker(s) standing up for themselves.” 

Also, in a viral video produced by the labor news site More Perfect Union and distributed by the UAW widely on social media, UAW workers emphasized repeatedly that the vote is not a “partisan matter.” 

“Everybody’s wanting to make this a political issue,” says UAW activist Vince Vaughn in the video. “There is nothing political about what we, the employees, are doing here.” 

UAW Featuring More Black Workers in Campaign 

In the previous two UAW elections at Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Black workers, who are a minority in the plant, were not regularly featured or presented. 

Now, the UAW is featuring the plant’s Black workers much more widely.

Check out this video from More Perfect Union on how the UAW is featuring African-American workers more widely. 

WaPo: ⅔ of Workers Interviewed Show Pro-Union Voting Intention 

Finally, the Washington Post’s Jeanne Whalen interviewed 25 workers at random in the parking lot of Volkswagen and reports that ⅔rd of them say that they are pro-union. 

From the Washington Post: 

“Of 26 Volkswagen workers who stopped to talk to a Washington Post reporter outside the factory gates this month, more than two-thirds said they planned to vote yes in the historic ballot that will test the UAW’s strategy of organizing a dozen automakers’ southern factories. Six workers said they were undecided and two were opposed.

“I’m pretty vocal about the union at work, and I usually ask a lot of people how they feel,” Collins said, en route to his shift building Atlas SUVs and electric ID.4 vehicles. “And from all the people I talk to, I’ve only come across three people who are against it.”

For more, check out the Washington Post. 

Alright folks, that’s all for all today. Keep sending tips, story ideas, comments and complaints to [email protected] 

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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]