Tag Archive for: Volkswagen

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. 

Chattanooga, Tenn. – A majority of workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant have signed cards to join the UAW, less than sixty days after the workers announced their campaign to form a union at the German automaker’s only US assembly plant.

The milestone marks the first non-union auto plant to publicly announce majority support among the dozens of auto plants where workers have begun 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 excitement has been building, and now that we have reached 50%, it is just continuing to grow. New organizers are joining each day spreading our effort to every area of the plant,” said Zach Costello, a Volkswagen worker and trainer in the plant’s Proficiency Room. “Just because we are in the South, it does not mean that our work is worth less, that our benefits should be diminished, or that we don’t have rights. All workers should have a voice, and I hope the success that we’re having here is showing workers across the country what is possible.”

“We realized that the working conditions could be a lot better,” said Victor Vaughn, a logistics team member at Volkswagen. “And the employees, we don’t have a say in any of the decisions that are going on within the plant. We’re not being recognized as a major resource for the company. We have a very important job, to put a vehicle on the road that our families are buying, that our kids are riding in. We take pride in what we do, but we don’t have a voice in how we operate. That’s why we’re taking the lead.”

The Chattanooga plant employs over 4,000 autoworkers, a clear majority of whom have signed cards to join the UAW. Workers at Mercedes in Vance, Alabama, and at Hyundai in Montgomery, Alabama have also announced public campaigns to join the UAW, with dozens of other plants actively organizing. For more information on the campaigns, visit UAW.org/join.

Montgomery, Ala. — Workers at Hyundai’s sole US plant, in Montgomery, Alabama, have announced a major milestone in their campaign to join the UAW, with over 30 percent of autoworkers at the plant having signed union cards.

In a new video, “Montgomery Can’t Wait,” Hyundai workers speak out on the ties between the union movement at the Korean automaker and the civil rights legacy of “Montgomery, the city where Rosa Parks sat down, and where thousands of Hyundai workers are ready to Stand Up.”

The video announcing the campaign can be accessed at uaw.org/hyundai and the media is invited to use the footage.

“I’m getting close to retirement and the company has literally broken me down,” said Drena Smith, a team member who has spent most of her 19 years at Hyundai in the paint shop and has had rotator cuff surgery on both shoulders and carpal tunnel surgery in one hand. “We need compensation for that when we retire. Not just a cake and a car discount for a car we can’t afford to buy because we won’t have any income. We need a real retirement; we need to win our union.”

“My oldest son works at the plant, over on General Assembly (GA),” said Dewayne Naylor, who currently does Body Shop Quality Control. “I went through 14 years in GA, and I know what it’ll do to your body over there. I don’t want the younger generation to go through what we did. Over the last ten years, most of my raises have been just 12 or 13 cents an hour. The price of their cars, they go up every year. But my pay don’t. If we don’t get the union here, our pay will never keep up.”

“I was a temp at Hyundai from 2014 to 2017. I made $11.03 an hour the entire time,” said Ronald Terry, a team member on Final 3 and 5 in General Assembly. “They kept saying, just wait a little longer, you’ll make it to full time. I finally did, but the pay is still mediocre. With the union, we can bring our pay and benefits up to a higher standard. That’s how you motivate your workers. It’s not just good for us, it’s good for the product we produce.”

“When you’re injured, management pushes you back on the line too soon,” said Peggy Howard, who works on F1 Final in General Assembly. “I had surgery on my rotator cuff in September and I had to go back to work the last of December. I didn’t get the two weeks ramp up and now I’m having pains over again. I had a cortisone injection three weeks ago and I’m about to go back for another injection. If that doesn’t work, the doctor told me he’ll have to do the surgery over again. We need to make our jobs safer; we need the union.”

“Here’s when I knew we needed the union,” said Quichelle Liggins, a Quality Inspector at Hyundai. “My youngest son had a basketball game, and I scheduled a half day of vacation time. Someone was supposed to come to the line to relieve me, but no one came. Finally, I clocked out and I missed the first quarter of his game. They still wanted to write me up for job abandonment. I had to go in front of team relations, and I explained what happened, that I was legit in having this personal day. And my group leader stopped me and said this job is more important than your family. At that moment, I just froze. That was sickening. I knew things at Hyundai had gone too far.”

The announcement marks the third 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, and Mercedes in Vance, Alabama, while workers at over two dozen other facilities continue to organize.

Over 10,000 autoworkers across 13 non-union companies have signed union cards with the UAW, as momentum builds across the auto industry for better wages, benefits, and rights on the job. The major milestone comes less than 90 days after UAW members ratified record contracts at the Big Three. 

“Our Stand Up movement has caught fire among America’s autoworkers, far beyond the Big Three,” said UAW President Shawn Fain. “These workers are standing up for themselves, for their families, and for their communities, and our union will have their back every step of the way.” 

In the wake of the UAW’s historic Stand Up Strike victory at the Big Three automakers (Ford, GM, Stellantis), thousands of non-union autoworkers began organizing their own unions with the UAW across the entire non-union auto industry.  

In just two months, workers at Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tenn., and at Mercedes in Vance, Ala., have gone public with their campaigns, nearing a majority of workers signed up at both plants. Workers at more than two dozen other facilities have begun organizing in the thousands, inspired by the Big Three victory and the non-union autoworkers’ public announcements. 

For more information on the non-union autoworkers’ organizing efforts at Volkswagen, Mercedes, Toyota, Honda, Volvo, Tesla, Nissan, BMW, Subaru, Mazda, Rivian, Lucid, and Hyundai, visit UAW.org/join

Today, 33 U.S. Senators are calling on 13 non-union auto companies to refrain from union-busting as over 150,000 autoworkers have launched campaigns to organize with the UAW. In a letter sent to the CEOs of the automakers, the Senators, led by Senators Peters, Stabenow, Padilla, Butler, and Brown stressed the importance of respecting workers’ right to form a union, and encouraged the companies to commit to neutrality in any organizing effort.

“Your commitment to neutrality would ensure that management does not pressure workers into voting against unionization or delaying the election process,” the Senators’ letter states. “We believe a neutrality agreement is the bare minimum standard manufacturers should meet in respecting workers’ rights, especially as companies receive and benefit from federal funds related to the electric vehicle transition.”

The letter also addresses reports of illegal actions taken by a number of the companies. In recent weeks, the UAW has filed unfair labor practice charges at the National Labor Relations Board against Honda, Hyundai, and Volkswagen for engaging in various illegal union-busting tactics in an attempt to intimidate and dissuade workers from voting to unionize.

“These retaliatory actions are hostile to workers’ rights and must not be repeated if further organizing efforts are made by these companies’ workers,” the letter continues. “We therefore urge you all to commit to implementation of a neutrality agreement at your manufacturing plants.”

“Every autoworker in this country deserves their fair share of the auto industry’s record profits, whether at the Big Three or the Non-Union Thirteen,” UAW President Shawn Fain said. “We applaud these U.S. Senators for standing with workers who are standing up for economic justice on the job. It’s time for the auto companies to stop breaking the law and take their boot off the neck of the American autoworker, whether they’re at Volkswagen, Toyota, Tesla, or any other corporation doing business in this country.”

The campaign comes on the heels of the UAW winning record contracts at Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis in October 2023, after the six-week Stand Up Strike that captivated the labor movement and led non-union automakers to raise wages in anticipation of fending off potential organizing at their facilities.

More information on the organizing drive can be found at UAW.org/join.

Chattanooga, Tenn. — At noon on Monday, December 18th, UAW President Shawn Fain will accompany a delegation of Volkswagen workers and community and faith leaders to deliver a letter to Volkswagen management demanding the company end its union-busting and intimidation, as workers organize to join the UAW. 

“These workers at your plant are our neighbors, congregants, family, and friends, and we applaud them for having the courage to demand better for themselves and our community,” reads the letter from CALEB (Chattanoogans in Action for Love, Equality and Benevolence), a community and faith coalition advocating for economic justice in Chattanooga. “However, we are deeply concerned by the stories Chattanooga workers have shared with us regarding Volkswagen’s efforts to stop them—in some cases illegally—from exercising their rights.” 
 
On Monday, December 11, Volkswagen workers filed federal unfair labor practice charges against Volkswagen for illegally intimidating, interfering with, and spying on pro-union workers. 

Today, VW workers are filing another federal labor charge against the company for unlawful company policies concerning social media, dress code, and flyering that have a chilling effect on workers’ rights to stand up and speak out publicly about their working conditions and the need to unionize. 

Volkswagen’s illegal actions come on the heels of the UAW announcing that well over 1,000 workers, making up over 30 percent of the Chattanooga plant, have signed union cards as part of a national movement of non-union autoworkers organizing to join the UAW in the wake of the union’s record contract victories at Ford, GM, and Stellantis. 

UAW President Shawn Fain addressed non-union autoworkers via Facebook Live on Monday, December 11. The livestream can be viewed on the UAW’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

During the broadcast, Fain gave updates on the union’s historic organizing drive, detailing how thousands of workers at non-union automakers have been reaching out to the UAW and organizing with their coworkers.

“Right now, thousands of workers at thirteen auto companies are fighting for a better life with the UAW,” Fain said during the livestream. “Workers at Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Nissan, Hyundai, Mazda, BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Volvo, Tesla, Rivian, and Lucid are ready to Stand Up. From California to South Carolina. From Illinois to Alabama. These workers are making history, and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Fain highlighted the organizing drive at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where a thousand workers had already signed union authorization cards in less than a week, with hundreds more signing up over the last few days. “Volkswagen workers are on fire and are inspiring workers all across the country,” Fain said. Workers at the Volkswagen facility were the first to go public with their efforts to join the union.

President Fain also announced that the UAW had filed three unfair labor practice charges this morning against Honda, Hyundai and Volkswagen for engaging in union-busting activity.

“Like corporations everywhere, no matter what they tell you, these companies are more than willing to break the law if it means protecting their bottom line from you,” Fain said. “They’ll lie, cheat, and steal. Intimidate, surveil, and coerce. And then out of the other side of their mouth, they’ll tell you we’re family.”

Fain ended the livestream with a clear message: the UAW will do everything in its power to support non-union autoworkers’ efforts to unionize, but ultimately, the workers will be the ones who will need to make it happen. “These workers won’t win because a lawyer filed paperwork,” he said. “They won’t win just because someone handed them a union card. They won’t win because of the UAW leadership or Shawn Fain. The workers at Honda, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Mercedes, and Toyota and all these non-union auto companies will win because they’re ready to Stand Up and fight for what they deserve.

“We’re asking you to reach out to anyone you know who may work at a non-union auto plant or might know someone who does. And we’re asking you to step up and organize your own workplace. Nothing else can fix our broken economy like a bigger, better, and bolder union movement. And no one’s going to do it but you.”

In the face of aggressive anti-union campaigns, workers organizing with the UAW at Honda in Indiana, Hyundai in Alabama, and Volkswagen in Tennessee, have filed charges against management for illegally union-busting as workers organize to join the UAW.

“We are filing an unfair labor practice charge against Honda because of management illegally telling us to remove union stickers from our hats, and for basically threatening us with write-ups,” says Honda worker Josh Cupit in a new video released by More Perfect Union. “It’s essentially to show Honda that we know what our rights are and that they’re not gonna bully us and we’re not gonna back down from ’em. And we know that they are in the wrong.”

“These companies are breaking the law in an attempt to get autoworkers to sit down and shut up instead of fighting for their fair share,” said UAW President Shawn Fain. “But these workers are showing management that they won’t be intimidated out of their right to speak up and organize for a better life. From Honda to Hyundai to Volkswagen and beyond, we’ve got their back. The auto industry’s record profits should mean record contracts for these workers, too.”

Fain will meet with thousands of non-union autoworkers on Facebook Live tonight at 5 p.m. ET. The media is invited to access the livestream at the UAW’s Facebook page and YouTube channel

Honda workers report being targeted and surveilled by management for pro-union activity at the company’s Indiana Auto Plant in Greensburg, Indiana. Hundreds of workers at the facility have signed union cards and are organizing to join the UAW.

At Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn., plant, well over 1,000 workers signed union cards in less than a week, and hundreds more continue to sign up. Management has harassed and threatened workers for talking about the union; confiscated and destroyed pro-union materials in the break room; attempted to intimidate and illegally silence pro-union workers; and has attempted to illegally prohibit workers from distributing union literature and discussing union issues in non-work areas on non-work time. Volkswagen has made public claims of “official neutrality” in past union efforts while aggressively pushing an anti-union message in forced meetings and internal literature.

On Thursday, Dec. 7, at an early morning shift change, security guards stopped a group of Volkswagen union supporters from distributing flyers to their coworkers at Gate 3.

“We’ve done hand billing at that gate before and the company has never done anything like this,” said Dave Gleeson, a production team member in finish and repair. “We were just getting ready to hand out flyers and security came up and told us we couldn’t. I asked if this was his decision, and he said no, this is coming from way over my head. Our campaign caught the company completely flat-footed, and they overreacted. We’re not going to be intimidated. We know our rights and we’re going to keep standing up and keep speaking out.”

At Hyundai’s Montgomery, Alabama plant, management has unlawfully confiscated, destroyed, and prohibited pro-union materials in non-work areas during non-work times. Hundreds of workers continue to sign up to win their union despite this illegal interference and intimidation.

Beverly McCall, a team member in engine assembly at the Hyundai plant, was in the parking lot passing out union leaflets on non-work time when a manager told her to stop. “The manager came up and told me you can’t be out here doing that,” said McCall. “I just kept right on doing what I was doing. We have every right to get the word out and they can’t stop us.”

Tim Cripple, a team member in engine assembly at Hyundai, was in a break room and had a few union leaflets on the table in front of him. “A group leader came in and called team relations on the phone,” said Cripple. “They said you can’t have them in here and the group leader threw them in the trash. At the same time, they have someone from the company sitting in the cafeteria handing out anti-union t-shirts and flyers. That’s just wrong, and we are not going to be silenced.”

The board charges are a defiant response to low-road behavior that is typical of the worst actors in anti-union coercion campaigns. Organizing a union free from management interference or threats is a federally protected right that is indispensable to a democratic, free society.

Thousands of non-union autoworkers across the country have launched campaigns to organize more than a dozen automakers across the country, building off the historic success of the UAW’s Stand Up Strike at the Big Three. To learn more, and to join the campaign, workers can go to UAW.org/join.