Skip to main content

Update - VW workers vote to reject UAW bid in Tennessee

An historic vote in the coming weeks may make or break Volkswagen's future in America.

Feb 15, 2014 - Please see updated story here:

The United Autoworkers have succeeded in securing a vote on unionization of Volkswagen’s Tennessee plant. The plant makes the Passat, which competes head to head with the Toyota Camry. The vote will take place over the period from February 12th through February 14rth. The vote will be a secret ballot type and the National Labor Relations board will conduct the vote.

The vote was actually requested by Volkswagen. The company is also allowing the UAW to campaign inside its plant which is very rare before unionization votes. The Wall Street Journal reports that a group of workers opposing unionization also requested an opportunity to campaign, but it was denied. WSJ quoted a member of the group, Mike Burton, as saying "We're looking into whether this is legal. This is the shortest campaigning period we've ever heard of."

If the UAW does organize the Tennessee plant it will be a breakthrough for the group and it could eventually lead to other plants in the area being unionized as well. How this will affect the Volkswagen Passat plant and VW in America is unclear. It would seem that based on comparisons to other plants, a unionized plant at VW will only increase costs for the automaker, and it is barely competitive now. Despite positive reviews of the Passat by automotive publications, the car does not sell very well by comparison to the market leaders, Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Nissan Altima. In fact, the Camry, which outsells the Passat 5 to one, outsells all of Volkswagen (every model combined) in the US. Despite its powerful advertising presence and long history in the US, VW is one of the smallest automakers in terms of sales units, or sales dollars. Currently, VW is not the segment leader in any of the car or crossover categories in which it competes in the US.