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The UAW has always been a strong force in the American automotive world but has never been able to crack one specific code. Foreign automakers haven’t had a UAW presence at their plants in America, but that’s about to change. In a landslide victory in favor of the union, one Tennessee factory will join the UAW family.

Unprecedented victories brought incredible change

Last fall, the UAW won a huge new contract for auto workers at Ford, GM, and Stellantis plants across the country. For the first time in history, the union organized workers on all three fronts and caused unprecedented labor stoppages that dramatically impacted all three automakers. The massive win for auto workers gained the attention of others at many non-union factories.

Workers at Volkswagen’s Tennessee plant voted to join the United Auto Workers, marking a historic event for the union. This vote wasn’t close, with a majority of eligible workers voting 2,628 to 985 to join the union. That means 73% of the workers voted to join.

UAW on Strike Last Fall
UAW on Strike Last Fall | ABC News

How historic is this event?

Many of the automotive factories in the South have avoided unionizing for decades. Additionally, most foreign-owned auto plants don’t join the UAW, either. This massive win marks the first time since the 1940s that a southern, foreign-owned factory will join the union.

Shawn Fain is campaigning hard

Shawn Fain is the latest UAW President and led the union to strike against the Detroit Big Three last fall. His campaign to unionize plants from automakers that aren’t part of the union starts with this VW factory in Tennessee. It will continue as he works to bring more factories into the UAW family. He’s already committed to spending $40 million through 2026 to support these efforts.

Which factory is next?

A Mercedes plant in Alabama could be next. A majority of the workers signed cards supporting unionization. A UAW election will be held during the week of May 13.

This push for additional UAW membership and support in the South met strong opposition from regional lawmakers. Republican governors in six southern states, including Tennessee spoke out in opposition to the UAW this week.

In previous years, the UAW lost elections at most southern automotive plants that showed any support for the union. The recent win over the Detroit Big Three and public support may change that for the union, allowing the union to gain some traction in the South.

Source: Reuters