Workers at Volkswagen’s US plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have decided to unionize for the third time. This is seen as a major victory for the US UAW union, which wants to expand its influence beyond the three American car giants. According to VW and the union, 73 percent of workers voted in favor of being represented by the UAW. The result still has to be confirmed by the US authority NLRB. The factory, which employs around 5,500 people, produces, among other things, the electric SUV ID.4 and the seven-seater Atlas.

US President Joe Biden, who was the first head of state to take part in a UAW warning strike in the state of Michigan in the fall, personally congratulated. “Once again, I am proud to stand alongside workers in the auto industry as they successfully unionize at Volkswagen,” Biden wrote in a statement from the White House. This should, among other things, help to increase employees’ wages.

Tailwind after strike

The UAW union has failed twice in recent years to organize workers at the Chattanooga plant. However, the UAW currently has a tailwind: Last fall, after a weeks-long strike, it pushed through better working conditions and income increases of around 25 percent at the US companies General Motors, Ford and Stellantis.

Traditionally, it has a strong presence in Michigan, the cradle of the US auto industry. The union, on the other hand, had a difficult time in the southern US states and in the factories of foreign car manufacturers. It has not yet managed to get a foot in the door with the electric car manufacturer Tesla. In recent decades, German car manufacturers have also set up plants, especially in the southern states of the USA, because wages there were lower than in Michigan. Now, according to experts there, the UAW could also score points with VW competitors in the future. “We are building power and momentum and will no longer allow corporations to put workers under pressure,” a UAW spokeswoman told Handelsblatt.

With 3,613 votes cast, 83.5 percent of workers took part in the vote. 2,628 of them voted for UAW representation. IG Metall at Volkswagen emphasized on Saturday that Chattanooga was the only factory in the core VW brand without employee representation. The president of the European and global works council at Volkswagen, Daniela Cavallo, said the workforce in Chattanooga had “written a piece of US union history.” At VW it was simply said that they would thank the workers for voting.