Biden Congratulates Tennessee Auto Plant on Historic Unionization Drive

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A Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee voted to unionize Friday night, the first auto manufacturing facility to unionize in the American South since the 1940s.

President Joe Biden issued a congratulations to the newly-formed union, which received 73 percent votes in favor among 3,613 workers, for “their historic vote for union representation with the United Auto Workers.”

“I was proud to stand alongside auto workers in their successful fight for record contracts, and I am proud to stand with auto workers now as they successfully organize at Volkswagen,” Biden said in a statement.

Last year, Biden oversaw historic strikes by UAW at the Big Three automakers: Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis, resulting in massive gains for the union. United Auto Workers formally endorsed Biden for President earlier this year, along with other prominent labor unions.

Biden also condemned a letter co-signed by six Republican governors that claimed the union vote would hurt jobs in their respective states.

“Let me be clear to the Republican governors that tried to undermine this vote: there is nothing to fear from American workers using their voice and their legal right to form a union if they so choose,” Biden said.

The heavily anti-union sentiment from top state leadership among Southern states reflects the uphill battle faced by the Volkswagen union drive, which had twice been defeated as recently as 2019, the Associated Press reported. Not only is the union the first to pass a vote in the South since World War II, it is also the first foreign-owned auto manufacturer to do so in the region, according to Reuters.

In an interview with the Associated Press, UAW President Shawn Fain said the success of the Big Three bargaining and larger union movement last year has given momentum in previously non-unionized locations.

“All we’ve heard for years is ‘we can’t win here, you can’t do this in the south,’ and you can,” Fain said.

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