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April 30, 2024

UAW’s Tennessee win fuels backers’ hopes in the South, but some skeptics are unmoved

The United Auto Workers (UAW) recently notched a significant victory in Tennessee, bolstering hopes for labor organizers in the traditionally anti-union southern United States. Skilled-trades workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga voted in favor of unionization, marking the first such victory for the UAW in a foreign-owned auto plant in the South. This development comes after multiple failed attempts by the UAW to unionize auto workers in the region. As such, many labor advocates view the Tennessee win as a turning point that could pave the way for similar successes in other southern states, where laws and cultural attitudes towards unions have historically been unfavorable. The UAW's victory also follows an escalating demand for unionization among sectors that traditionally resisted it, including tech and digital media industries. However, not everyone is convinced by the UAW's success in Tennessee. Some skeptics remain unmoved, arguing that the victory is not necessarily a positive sign for the future of labor unions in the South. They cite long-standing anti-union sentiment and legislation, as well as the fact that the vote involved a small and specific group of skilled-trades workers, as reasons for their skepticism.