Tag Archive for: organizing

CHATTANOOGA, TENN. — In a historic victory, an overwhelming majority of Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have voted to join the UAW. While votes continue to be tallied, the outcome is clear: Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga are the first Southern autoworkers outside of the Big Three to win their union. 

Press can see the results of the election tonight at uaw.org/vwvote.

“This election is big,” said Kelcey Smith, a worker in the paint department at Volkswagen. “People in high places told us good things can’t happen here in Chattanooga. They told us this isn’t the time to stand up, this isn’t the place. But we did stand up and we won. This is the time; this is the place. Southern workers are ready to stand up and win a better life.”  

“We saw the big contract that UAW workers won at the Big Three and that got everybody talking,” said Zachary Costello, a trainer in VW’s proficiency room. “You see the pay, the benefits, the rights UAW members have on the job, and you see how that would change your life. That’s why we voted overwhelmingly for the union. Once people see the difference a union makes, there’s no way to stop them.”    

“This is a movement for every blue-collar worker in America,” said Doug Snyder, a body worker at Volkswagen. “Our vote shows that workers everywhere want a better life on and off the job. Fair pay is important, but so is time with our families. So is a voice for safety in our plant. We’re looking forward to getting to the bargaining table with the company and winning a contract that makes things right at Volkswagen.” 

5,000 workers at Mercedes-Benz in Vance, Ala., will have their vote to join the UAW on May 13 to 17. In the wake of the historic Stand Up Strike victory at the Big Three auto companies, over 10,000 non-union autoworkers have signed union cards in recent months, with public campaigns launched at Mercedes, Volkswagen, Hyundai in Montgomery, Ala., and Toyota in Troy, Mo. Workers at over two dozen other facilities are also actively organizing. For more information, visit uaw.org/join. 

VANCE, Ala. –  5,000 Mercedes workers will have an opportunity to vote to form their union in less than a month.  The election will be held in-person at the Mercedes plant May 13 – 17 in Vance, Alabama. The vote will be administered by the National Labor Relations Board.  

“Workers at our plant are ready for this moment,” said Jeremy Kimbrell, a Mercedes worker at the Vance plant. “We are ready to vote yes because we are ready to win our fair share. We are going to end the Alabama discount and replace it with what our state actually needs. Workers sticking together and sticking by our community.” 

“The time is now,” said Latesha Henry, a Mercedes worker at the Vance plant. “It’s time to regain family work life balance and make history at Mercedes. I want this to be a job that generation after generation would be proud to have.” 

The vote at Mercedes will come just a few weeks after workers at Volkswagen vote on unionizing with UAW in Chattanooga, Tennessee. That vote is currently underway, and it is anticipated that ballots will be counted Friday evening after voting ends.  

Should workers at both plants vote to unionize, nearly 10,000 autoworkers across the South will have voted to join UAW in less than a month. 

In addition to Mercedes and Volkswagen, thousands more autoworkers have signed union cards in recent months, with public campaigns at Hyundai in Montgomery, Ala. and Toyota in Troy, Mo. Workers at more than two dozen other facilities are actively organizing.  

“We’re tired of Mercedes executives rolling things back,” said Billy Guyton, a Mercedes worker at the Vance plant. “We’re going to roll our union forward.”  

For more information, visit uaw.org/join

VANCE, Ala. – A supermajority of Mercedes-Benz workers have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a vote to join the UAW. The over 5,000 workers at the Mercedes plant outside Tuscaloosa, Ala., are the second group of Southern autoworkers to call for a union election in less than three weeks. Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tenn., filed for their election in mid-March and will have their vote to join the UAW April 17–19.  

new video announcing the election filing at Mercedes features the Alabama autoworkers at a recent rally with UAW President Shawn Fain. In the video, Mercedes workers speak out on why they’re voting yes to join the UAW. (The media is invited to use footage from the video.) 

In a statement today, Jeremy Kimbrell, a measurement machine operator at Mercedes, said, “We are standing up for every worker in Alabama. At Mercedes, at Hyundai and at hundreds of other companies, Alabama workers have made billions of dollars for executives and shareholders, but we haven’t gotten our fair share. We’re going to turn things around with this vote. We’re going to end the Alabama discount.” 

“We are voting for safer jobs at Mercedes,” said Moesha Chandler, an assembly team member at Mercedes. “I’m still young, but I’m already having serious problems with my shoulders and hands. When you’re still in your twenties and your body is breaking down, that’s not right. By winning our union, we’ll have the power to make the work safer and more sustainable.” 

Mercedes management is running an aggressive anti-union campaign, but that has not blunted the workers’ momentum. By late February, less than two months after Mercedes workers went public with their drive to join the UAW, a majority of them had signed union cards. The Mercedes workers hope to be voting in their union election by early May. The NLRB is expected to quickly set the date for the election.  

The UAW has filed federal labor charges against Mercedes for illegal union busting, as well as charges in a German court for labor violations that could net billions in penalties for the German automaker. 

“We’re going to make Mercedes better with this vote,” said Jacob Ryan, a KVP team member at Mercedes. “Right now, the company keeps losing good people because they force them to work Saturdays at the last second, to take shifts that mess with their family lives. And the only choice people have is to take it or quit. With the union, we’ll have a voice for fair schedules that keep workers at Mercedes.” 

The Mercedes workers are part of the national movement of non-union autoworkers organizing to join the UAW in the wake of the historic Stand Up Strike victory at the Big Three auto companies. Over 10,000 non-union autoworkers have signed union cards in recent months, with public campaigns launched at Mercedes, Volkswagen, Hyundai in Montgomery, Ala., and Toyota in Troy, Mo. Workers at over two dozen other facilities are also actively organizing. For more information, visit uaw.org/join. 

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — More than 4,000 Volkswagen workers are set to vote in their union election on April 17, 18 and 19. The National Labor Relations Board has scheduled the election and will oversee the secret-ballot vote at the VW plant in Chattanooga.  

“We’re voting yes to win a better life for ourselves and our families,” said Isaac Meadows, an assembly worker at Volkswagen. “We need a say in our schedules, benefits, pay, and more. We’re proud to work at Volkswagen, but we also know the value of a voice at work.” 

The VW workers filed for the election last week after a supermajority of them signed union cards. The VW workers reached a majority on cards in early February, just two months after launching their public campaign to join the UAW.  

The April 17–19 election at Volkswagen marks the latest breakthrough in the national movement of non-union autoworkers organizing to join the UAW. The movement was inspired by the record contracts UAW members won during last year’s Stand Up Strike against the Big Three auto companies.  

Over 10,000 non-union autoworkers have signed union cards in recent months, with public campaigns launched at VW, Mercedes in Vance, Ala., Hyundai in Montgomery, Ala., and Toyota in Troy, Mo. Workers at more than two dozen other facilities are also actively organizing. For more information, visit uaw.org/join

Autoworkers at Mercedes-Benz in Alabama have been organizing to win their union. Today they met with UAW President Shawn Fain and Region 8 Director Tim Smith to talk about their path to victory. Here are remarks that President Fain shared with them:

Good afternoon, Union Family.

It’s my honor to be here, to be with so many badass, fed up autoworkers who are ready to stand up.

Today I’m here to talk about the path to victory. It’s a powerful idea. The path to victory. Because first things first — there is a path.

 
Before we can even talk about what we need to do to get what we deserve, we have to acknowledge one thing. Working class people, like all of you here today, have the power to change the world. You have the power to change your circumstances. You have the power to take back your time. To take back your life. To win real time off the job. A fair wage. Good healthcare you can afford. A better life for your family. For all of Alabama.

The first thing you need to do to win is to believe that you can win. That this job can be better. That your life can be better. And that those things are worth fighting for. That is why we stand up. That’s why you’re here today. Because deep down, you believe it’s possible.

There is a path. But here’s the other thing about the path to victory. It’s only a path. You have to walk it. Nobody can walk it for you. I didn’t come down here to tell you what all I’m going to do for you as the President of the UAW. That’s not what this is about. Everything you win in this fight will be because you won it.

You are in spitting distance of a life-changing victory. That’s because all of you are coming together with your coworkers to do the work of organizing your workplace. And the company knows it too. That’s why Mercedes is pulling out every trick in the book to instill fear, uncertainty, and division. To scare people off of standing up for a better life.

I’ve been meeting with UAW staff and with some of you. And what’s clear to me is we are doing things differently this time. This time, we are going to make sure we have leaders on each line, on each shift, talking to each other about building their union. That is the path to victory.

And it’s not just about the vote. True victory is not just winning a vote. We want to win big on the day of the election – but we also need to build that organizing muscle, that unity, and that determination to win big in a union contract. That’s what changes lives. That’s what this is all about.

But you have to walk that path to victory. You have to say – I’m ready to talk to my coworkers. I’m ready to have my name be public on a vote yes petition. I’m ready to go to work every day and proudly wear my UAW hat for everyone to see. I’m ready to stand up, strong and loud, and proud about this fight. I can’t win that for you. Our staff can’t win that for you. Only you can walk that path to victory.

Let me be clear, that doesn’t mean you’re walking alone. Our staff, our union, and hundreds of thousands of UAW members are behind you. Across this country, there are working-class people looking to you. For inspiration. For hope. And we’ve all got your back.

I opened these remarks with “union family,” because we are a family. But here in Alabama, it hits close to home. Many of you may not know this but my family’s roots are in the South. I have family from Alabama. And three of my grandparents were from Tennessee, one from Kentucky, and after the Great Depression, all of my grandparents had to move north. And they were blessed to hire in at GM and Chrysler in the early days of the UAW. They stood up for themselves and went and got a better life.

But the real meaning of union is not having to leave for greener pastures. Not having to leave your family and your life behind just to be able to live. The real meaning of union is fighting for a better life where you are. Because it’s your job. It’s your body. It’s your time. It’s your family. It’s your community.

I look around here and I see a lot of people who remind me of myself and my roots. I know struggle. I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck. I’ve been on unemployment. I’ve received government aid to get formula and diapers for my firstborn child.


Joining the union, the UAW, changed my life. It gave me a wage I could raise a family on. It gave me a job I could rely on. And it gave me hope for the future. So, I put everything I had into building this union. I walked that path. I know what it’s like to be out there at the gates, trying to get your coworkers organized. I know what it’s like to have to fight the company tooth and nail just to have a little dignity on the job. And I know if I didn’t do it, if regular autoworkers like me and you don’t stand up, nothing’s going to change. So, do it for yourself. Do it for your family. And we’ll have your back every step of the way.

You’re so close to the finish line. Some people get within inches of their goal and quit before they realize that if they’d have given one more push they would have reached it.

 
 My running for president of the UAW was very similar. If I hadn’t relied on faith and faced fear and doubt and took on the insurmountable odds of running for president of the UAW, nothing would have changed.

 
People said I was crazy for running for President. Some who were previously in power tried to make the members afraid to vote for change. But the members took a leap of faith and voted for new leaders and look what we are accomplishing.

Our Big Three contract campaign was the same. People said we were crazy for going for the things we did. Companies said they couldn’t afford it. Companies made threats. The media said we were crazy.

But guess what? We focused on facts in our Big 3 campaign and strike. The fact that the companies made a quarter of a trillion dollars in a decade. The fact that CEO pay went up 40% over the previous 4 years. And the fact that workers were being left behind, although the workers generate those massive profits through their labor. 75% of Americans sided with us in that fight. Using the power of facts and a unified membership.

We won a record contract and the companies still paid out massive stock dividends to investors. CEOs are still giving themselves massive raises, and business is fine.

It’s the same here in Alabama.

Facts: The German three made double what the Big Three made in the last decade. A half a trillion. $460 billion. Mercedes’s CEO got an 80% raise last year. The eight managers on the Mercedes management board got a collective $27 million raise last year. The average Mercedes executive makes $3,600 an hour. It would take a Mercedes production worker at the top rate two years to make what a Mercedes executive earns in one week.

The company, the Governor, and the Business Council are trying to make you afraid to stand up, because you are so close to realizing a life many thought wasn’t possible. Mercedes is using fear, uncertainty, and division because they are afraid.

Mercedes is afraid of you having a voice in your work life. Mercedes is afraid of sharing any control over your work lives. Mercedes is afraid of paying you the wages and benefits you deserve for the massive profits your work, your sacrifice, your blood, and your sweat create. You are an at-will employee, you have no rights, and management has all the control. It’s time to change that.

Years ago, my grandparents had to leave Tennessee to live the American Dream. You don’t have to leave. You can achieve it right here in Alabama.

The first thing I do when I get up every day, daily reading and pray. Recently, I thought of you when I read my daily reading, Hebrews 11:1, “Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.”

The only people who can organize the South are the workers in the South. And those workers who stand up are forever going to go down in history for doing what so many people said was impossible. Why not you? Why not here?

I said during our campaign at the Big Three that this is our generation’s defining moment. That faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains, and we moved mountains.

Now, here in Alabama, we have another mountain to move. This is your defining moment to change your lives. To change America. And to change the world for the better. So, let’s walk down that path to victory together in Solidarity and let’s finish the job.

So, I came here not to win this thing for you. Not to tell you what to do. I came here to find out for myself the answer to one question. Are you ready to Stand Up? I believe you are, and I believe in you.

If you’re ready, the time is now. This is your defining moment. If we have public supporters in every department, on every line, on every shift, Mercedes workers will be guaranteed to win your election. Raise your hand if you can commit to being that person for your line.

Before you leave today, put your name on the public petition and join your coworkers on the path to victory. We will not let the company divide us. That’s how they win. Solidarity is our strength. That’s how we win.

This isn’t about power, It’s about control. Without a Union contract, they have all the control. You have the power. You just have to recognize it and use it. Let’s finish the job that started so long ago. Let’s walk a new path for working-class people together in solidarity.

Thank you.


Chattanooga, TN – Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tenn., have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board for a vote to join the UAW, after a supermajority of Volkswagen workers have signed union cards in just 100 days.

In a new video, Volkswagen workers speak out on why they’re voting yes to join the UAW.

“Today, we are one step closer to making a good job at Volkswagen into a great career,” said Isaac Meadows, a production team member in assembly. “Right now, we miss time with our families because so much of our paid-time-off is burned up during the summer and winter shutdowns. We shouldn’t have to choose between our family and our job. By winning our union and a real voice at Volkswagen, we can negotiate for more time with our families.”

“We are voting yes for our union because we want Volkswagen to be successful,” said Victor Vaughn, a logistics team member at VW. “Volkswagen has spent billions of dollars expanding in Chattanooga, but right now safety is a major issue in our plant. Just the other day, I was almost hit by four 500-plus pound crates while I was driving to deliver parts. That incident should’ve been followed up within the hour, but even after I clocked out no one asked me about it. VW has partnered with unionized workforces around the world to make their plants safe and successful. That’s why we’re voting for a voice at Volkswagen here in Chattanooga.”

“I come from a UAW family, so I’ve seen how having our union enables us to make life better on the job and off,” said Yolanda Peoples, a production team member in assembly. “We are a positive force in the plant. When we win our union, we’ll be able to bargain for a safer workplace, so people can stay on the job and the company can benefit from our experience. When my father retired as a UAW member, he had something to fall back on. VW workers deserve the same.”

The milestone marks the first non-union auto plant to file for a union election among the dozens of auto plants where workers have been organizing in recent months. The grassroots effort sprang up in the wake of the record victories for Big Three autoworkers in the UAW’s historic Stand Up Strike win.

The Chattanooga plant is Volkswagen’s only U.S. assembly plant and employs over 4,000 autoworkers. It is the only Volkswagen plant globally with no form of employee representation.

TROY, Mo. – Workers at a critical Toyota plant in Troy, Missouri have launched their public campaign to join the UAW after more than 30% signed union authorization cards. It is the first Toyota plant and the fourth non-union plant nationwide where workers have gone public with their campaign to win their union.

In a new video, “We Keep Toyota Running,” workers at the plant — which makes the cylinder heads for every Toyota engine made in North America — describe the toll of the work on their bodies.

The video announcing the campaign can be accessed here, and the media is invited to use the footage. More information on the campaign is available at uaw.org/toyota-tmmmo.

Dawn Ellis, a worker featured in the video, tore her rotator cuff on the job, a common injury at the plant. She had surgery on a Friday and, in a common practice at the plant, was ordered to report to work the following Monday. In a separate injury, Ellis suffered a fractured skull and has struggled with migraine headaches ever since.

“The plant is not safe,” said Jaye Hochuli, a team leader at the plant. “They had me crawl under a deck to clean out the sand and silica dust and chemicals that come out of the machines. It was a confined space. I should’ve been in a respirator and a hazmat suit. All they gave me was a KN-95 mask. I came home and that dust was in my hair, on my clothes, in my underwear. How can the richest car company in the world not follow basic safety practices? We’re organizing to fix what’s wrong and win the protection we need.”

Wages at the plant are far below the rate that UAW members make in equivalent Big Three facilities. Even after Toyota increased pay in response to last year’s record UAW contracts – the “UAW Bump” — production workers in Troy make over $4 an hour less than their UAW counterparts.

“Seeing the new contracts with the Big Three, that’s when I realized we needed a union,” said Charles Lashley, a team member in support. “It was incredible that UAW members could bargain for those benefits and that pay. I don’t see why we should be paid differently. Toyota makes more money than all the Big Three. So, there’s no reason why we should be so far behind. The company can’t run without us. We should get paid like it. We can by organizing our union.”

“When I was hired two and a half years ago, I came in with 24 people. I’m the last one left,” said Jessica Clay a team member in die changes. “The overtime we worked was too much. Overtime now isn’t the problem it was, but there’s still no sick time. We still have to use PTO [paid time off] during shutdowns. I came from Ford; I came from UAW. The union was a better fit for your life. In our union, we have more control. We have a better life.”

“The company has a slogan they like to use: One Toyota,” said Jarred Wehde, a production team member. “We’ve got the Toyota sign out front, just like they do in Kentucky and Indiana. But our pay is nowhere near what theirs is. We know what the company makes. We know they can afford to pay us. By organizing our union, we can win our fair share.”

The announcement marks the latest major breakthrough in the national movement of non-union autoworkers organizing to join the UAW in the wake of the historic Stand Up Strike victory at the Big Three auto companies. Over 10,000 non-union autoworkers have signed union cards in recent months, with public campaigns launched at Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Mercedes in Vance, Alabama, and Hyundai in Montgomery, Alabama, while workers at over two dozen other facilities continue to organize.

For more information, visit uaw.org/join.

NEW YORK CITY – Full time, non-tenure track faculty at New York University have voted by an overwhelming margin (553 to 72, or 89.5%) in favor of joining Contract Faculty United – UAW (CFU-UAW), according to ballots tallied Wednesday night by the American Arbitration Association. CFU-UAW will represent nearly 1,000 Contract Faculty across NYU. 

“With participation from nearly 67% of the unit, this is a resounding vote for our union,” said Ahmed Ansari, Industry Assistant Professor in Technology, Culture and Society at Tandon School of Engineering. “Our work powers NYU’s educational mission—but too many of us face unpredictable salaries that routinely shortchange women and people of color. We look forward to negotiating a strong first contract that allows us to live in New York City, protects our job security and academic freedom, and makes NYU an equitable place to work. Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions, and we are excited to bargain as equals with the university administration to make progress on these issues and more.”

“UAW workers in higher education are standing up and winning major improvements all across the United States, raising the standards for all academic workers,” said UAW President Shawn Fain. ”We applaud NYU contract faculty for taking this major step towards winning the pay, benefits and respect they deserve, and we’ve got their back.”

“We are excited to welcome NYU contract faculty into the growing UAW family,” said Brandon Mancilla, Director of UAW Region 9A, which includes New York City, New England and Puerto Rico.  “After a long fight and a historic election victory, contract faculty can now look forward to bargaining a strong first union contract.”

NYU Contract Faculty join more than 100,000 academic workers across the United States who are represented by the UAW. In the last five years alone over 40,000 academic workers around the country have chosen to become part of the UAW, including nearly 15,000 from the east coast area.

Learn more at NYUContractFacultyUnion.org

VANCE, AL — A majority of workers at Mercedes-Benz’s largest plant in the United States, MBUSI in Vance, Alabama, have signed union cards in support of joining the UAW.

In a video announcement, Mercedes worker Jeremy Kimbrell, surrounded by his Mercedes coworkers, announces that “a majority of our coworkers at Mercedes here in Alabama have signed our union cards and are ready to win our union and a better life with the UAW.”

The full text of the announcement, and the video, are available below and media are encouraged to use the materials.

Kimbrell details several of the driving forces behind the workers’ grassroots campaign to join the UAW, including workers going many years without meaningful raises, a two-tier wage system, and the abuse of temporary workers. Each of these issues also figured prominently in the UAW’s Stand Up Strike at the Big Three, which has spurred an unprecedented amount of organizing activity and interest among America’s non-union autoworkers.

“There comes a time when enough is enough,” says Kimbrell. “Now is that time. We know what the company, what the politicians, and what their multi-millionaire buddies will say. They’ll say now is not the right time. Or that this is not the right way. But here’s the thing. This is our decision. It’s our life. It’s our community. These are our families. It’s up to us.”

The announcement marks the second plant to reach the majority milestone this month, after Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga reached majority support in early February. Over ten thousand non-union autoworkers across 14 auto companies have signed union cards and begun organizing to join the UAW in the wake of the historic Stand Up Strike victories at the Big Three.

Full text of MBUSI workers’ announcement of majority support to join the UAW: 

“We’re here today to make a major announcement. 

A majority of our coworkers at Mercedes here in Alabama have signed our union cards and are ready to win our union and a better life with the UAW. 

We haven’t taken this step lightly. 

For years, we’ve fallen further behind while Mercedes has made billions. 

After 2008 and 2009, some of our coworkers were forced to leave the company.  

Consecutive CEOs said they’d be brought back once things improved.  

Things did improve, but they were never allowed to return and were replaced within six months by temporary workers at half the pay. 

These same temporary workers then worked for up to eight years before receiving full time jobs.  

Also during this time, our management gave us a 42 cent raise over a six year period while making record profits.  

And these same record profits weren’t enough to prevent Mercedes from imposing an unfair two-tier pay scale just as our children were entering the workforce.  

We’ve learned that we can’t trust Mercedes with our best interests.  

There comes a time when enough is enough.  

Now is that time.  

We know what the company, what the politicians, and what their multi-millionaire buddies will say.  

They’ll say now is not the right time.  

that this is not the right way.  

But here’s the thing.  

This is our decision.  

It’s our life.  

It’s our community.  

These are our families.  

It’s up to us.  

It’s not up to Mercedes management or any politician or anyone else.  

We’re exercising our right to fight for a better life.  

And we won’t stop until we’ve made things right for the workers who build the cars and make the company run.  

We organized our plant by ourselves.  

We are our union.  

So we’re here to tell you that we are the majority.  

That Mercedes workers are ready to stand up.  

And we’re asking all of you watching this, whether you’re an autoworker at Mercedes or just someone who believes in a better life for working class people in Alabama and beyond: stand with us.  

Support our cause, and join our movement.  

Thank you. 

Stand Up! 

DETROIT – The United Auto Workers is committing $40 million through 2026 in new organizing funds to support non-union autoworkers and battery workers who are organizing across the country, and particularly in the South. 

The UAW International Executive Board voted Tuesday to commit the funds in response to an explosion in organizing activity among non-union auto and battery workers, in order to meet the moment and grow the labor movement. 

In the next few years, the electric vehicle battery industry is slated to add tens of thousands of jobs across the country, and new standards are being set as the industry comes online. These jobs will supplement, and in some cases largely replace, existing powertrain jobs in the auto industry. Through a massive new organizing effort, workers will fight to maintain and raise the standard in the emerging battery industry. 

The major announcement comes on the heels of growing organizing momentum across the non-union auto sector, with workers at Volkswagen in Chattanooga announcing majority support for the union, and workers at Hyundai in Montgomery, Alabama and at Mercedes in Vance, Alabama following closely on their heels. 

More than ten thousand autoworkers have already signed their union cards to join the UAW and fight for a better life at 14 non-union automakers from California to South Carolina. To learn more about that campaign, visit UAW.org/join.