Historic breakthrough for the major American automobile union UAW in the southern United States

Six months before the American presidential election, the victory is major for the left. The automobile union UAW (United Auto Workers) succeeded for the first time in organizing the factory of a foreign manufacturer in one of the southern states of the United States. Indeed, 2,628 Volkswagen employees, or 73% of voters, approved the unionization of their Chattanooga plant in Tennessee. The vote, spread over three days, ended Friday April 19. It was conducted by secret ballot under the federal supervision of the National Labor Relation Board. Participation reached 83%.

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This vote is part of a massive campaign ($40 million) to conquer the non-unionized factories of a dozen European and Asian manufacturers located in the south of the United States, but also Tesla factories. The offensive was launched following the victorious strike led by the new boss of the UAW, Shawn Fain, in the fall of 2023 against the three historic manufacturers of Detroit, the famous Big Three (Ford, General Motors, Stellantis ex-Chrysler).

After obtaining cumulative pay increases of more than 25% over four years, with an hourly wage reaching $42 an hour, the UAW felt it had the wind in its sails. “When we return to the negotiating table in 2028, it won’t just be with the Big Three”but with the “Big Five” Or “Big Six”, declared Shawn Fain in November 2023. Friday April 19, the trade unionist saw his strategy reinforced “Tonight, you all took a giant and historic step”declared Mr. Fain, celebrating the Chattanooga victory: “Let’s get to work and win more for the working class of this nation. »

For months, the union has enjoyed the political support of Joe Biden. The Democratic president had indeed traveled to a picket near Detroit, a first for a President of the United States. Immediately after the vote closed on Friday, Mr. Biden sent his “congratulations to Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga”saying to himself ” proud “ to be “at their side”.

A groundswell

Joe Biden, who claims to be the most pro-union president in the United States, sees this as a groundswell. “Across the country, union workers have recorded significant victories and raises, including auto workers, actors, port workers, truckers, writers…”, Mr. Biden said. The American president believes that these victories have repercussions on the entire middle class. The candidate for his re-election attacked the Republican governors of the states concerned, accused of “undermine” the syndication process.

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