VW Focusing on Biden in Anti-Union Campaign – No Captive Audience Meetings – Baltimore Dockworkers Worry

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 Rio de Janeiro, where I will be flying up to Chattanooga from to join the fight there in 5 days and things appear to be heating up.

Donate to help us pay for a hotel stay in Chattanooga. 

Volkswagen Focusing on Biden in Anti-Union Literature 

This week, Volkswagen launched a full court press to persuade workers to vote against the UAW. 

Lawn signs appeared outside of Chattanooga’s Volkswagen Plant from the StillNoUAW campaign discouraging workers with messages saying “UAW=Biden” and “#RememberWestmoreland.” (Referencing the closure of Volkswagen’s last North American plant in Westmoreland County, where my mother worked, that closed in 1988 after several wildcat UAW strikes). 

The signs direct workers to check out the website StillNoUAW.com, which features photos of the “Stand Up Strike,” and warns Volkswagen workers to not allow “Chattanooga to Become Detroit.” 

When the website opens up, it features an immediate quote from Donald Trump on his social media platform “Truth Social” reading, “[UAW President] Shawn Fain is a Weapon of Mass Destruction on Auto Workers & the Automobile Manufacturing Industry in the United States.”

The site and messaging from the company focuses heavily on the UAW’s role in supporting Biden and opposing Trump. 

“The UAW endorsed Joe Biden in 2020 and again in 2024, repeatedly attacking former President Trump,” says the Still No UAW website. “UAW membership nationwide is at its lowest point since 2009. Maybe the UAW should care more about its members than politics?” 

Read the full website here. 

Update: Since posting yesterday, it appears that the signs appear to be torn down. The signs also appeared to be made by a group calling itself “VW Chatt Workers, for VW Chatt Workers”. It’s unclear what level of coordination the group has with Volkswagen.

No Captive Audience Meetings at Volkswagen 

So far, the German automaker has refrained from captive audience meetings that many other anti-union employers successfully use. Captive audience meetings are outlawed in Germany and could be a violation of German law for a German company to use them abroad. 

(For more on how German labor law could help workers organize, check out Harold Meyerson at the American Prospect) 

So far, pro-union Volkswagen workers say that tying the UAW to Biden isn’t having much effect in Chattanooga. 

“They keep trying to use politics to divide us, and to scare us into getting back into line,” Volkswagen worker Zach Costello told Payday Report. He says that the highlight on politics hasn’t had a large impact in the plant, persuading “only a couple of edge voters here and there, but no significant exodus, but they are trying hard to use that.” 

19 Stories on UAW Drives Filed in 2024 – Give $19 to Help Us File More 

So far, Payday has filed 19 stories about the UAW drive, more than any other media outlet. (Be sure to read our 5 page analysis of why this UAW election is different from the ones I covered in 2014 and 2019)

Donate $19 to help us publish more stories in 2024. Please, if you can, sign up as one of our 774 recurring donors today. 

Concession Workers Strike 76s vs. Pistons Game in Philadelphia 

Tonite, the 76ers vs Pistons Game went on despite a strike by concession workers employed by Aramark at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. 

“We are looking for humane treatment. We work for a multi-billion-dollar company and we have no healthcare offered to us. We have no paid sick time, we get no paid time off,” bartender Carlton Epps told WHYY. 

For more, check out WHYY. 

Baltimore Dockworkers Fear Unemployment 

Finally, thousands of dockworkers in Baltimore fear long-term unemployment as their port shuts down. From Washington Post: 

“The workers gathered in dive bars, union buildings and port parking lots this week, uncertain whether they’ll get government assistance while crews work furiously to clear the tangle of bridge wreckage that is now submerged in the Patapsco River.

A lot of the workers were afraid to talk Monday, the union representatives all said “no comment,” and everyone is nervous that their predicament will be forgotten and that the forecast by the Army Corps of Engineers that it will be able to clear the shipping channel by the end of May is too optimistic.

However long the wait ends up being, it will feel longer.

Last year this was the busiest port in the nation for the transport of cars and light trucks, and it’s a hub for other types of vehicles and machinery, all of which can require specialized equipment and facilities to load and unload, according to the White House.”

For more, check out the Washington Post. 

Strikes & News Happening Elsewhere 

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

Donate to Help Us Cover Two Historic UAW Elections in the South. Please, if you can, sign up as one of our 774 recurring donors today. Thanks again for all the support. 

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]