US VW Workers Seek To Join Top Auto Union

The American auto industry, (which includes the big three- Ford, Chrysler and General Motors) has never been the same since the 2008 recession in which Chrysler and General Motors both filed for bankruptcy and survived only through government assistance. Dozens of plants across the United States have closed since the turn of the century, and hundreds of thousands of jobs in auto manufacturing have been outsourced over several decades. Trade agreements which have allowed corporations to outsource labor and save production costs have hurt workers and weakened the unions ability to negotiate for fairer wages, while simultaneously hurting American corporation’s ability to compete with foreign companies. Workers have been feeling the brunt of a changing American economy over several decades- the main demands of UAW reflect this as the union calls for increases in wages.

Statistically, automaker CEO’s have experienced 40% pay increases over several years while workers have experienced stagnant wages, with new hires receiving markedly lower pay for the same work as seasoned veterans in the industry. Worsening the problem is the fact that the already struggling American automotive industry, which no longer wields the power it once did, simply cannot compete with foreign companies that have labor costs over 10% lower than them. After a lengthy strike this last fall, new labor agreements were reached, but the damage was done. Billions of dollars in losses were incurred by American companies, and even workers lost revenue while layoffs also simultaneously occurred. Workers did receive several changes to employment compensation scale and structure,  though.

In a recent development, it appears a Volkswagen factory in Tennessee is attempting to unionize. Currently, many foreign companies that produce cars in the United States are not unionized. Allegedly, thousands of employees have signed union cards in the Chattanooga plant. The economic reality for many Americans is poor; wages have been stagnant for decades and the cost of living has skyrocketed in recent years.