On September 4th, we held a workers’ Labor Day Family Cookout. We had a great time joining together for food, fun, and fellowship. The Cookout provided a great opportunity to socialize and learn more about unions. As a show of unity and support, other unions and community organizations in the area attended as well – United Steelworkers Local 15120, SEIU Local 205, IATSE Local 140, Tennessee For All, Chattanooga Area Labor Council, and CALEB. Children enjoyed games with prizes and face painting.
We had a great turnout for our first Town Hall meeting on July 16th, where workers had an opportunity to ask questions and express concerns about what it would mean for us to have a union at Volkswagen Chattanooga. The meeting was open to all VW production and variable workforce employees and their families. It also provided an opportunity to connect with fellow workers and those involved in the union campaign. We were joined by the President of UAW Local 882, Darrell Johnson, who shared his experience about what it is like to be in a union and the benefits of collective bargaining. For those who could not attend the in-person Town Hall, we followed it up with a Virtual Town Hall on July 24th. From these town hall meetings we created a list of Frequently Asked Questions.
In June, almost 700 Volkswagen Chattanooga employees signed a petition requesting the right to choose to use Paid-Time-Off (PTO) or no-pay no-penalty for the July 4 week shutdown. PTO is a valued and needed benefit for employees to use at our discretion to maintain a quality work/life balance. Members of UAW Local 42's Voluntary Organizing Committee also signed a letter to management in support of this worker initiated petition. This effort showed the power of collective action. We know that when we join together as fellow workers we can have a voice in the decisions that impact our work and our lives.
Following our letter to management about wages and working conditions and talks with management about the same, Volkswagen announced the largest pay increase in the history of our plant and the addition of Supplemental Unemployment Benefits — an important step showing that work at Volkswagen can be better. It also shows that we can win meaningful improvements when we get organized and make demands together. In remains, however, that without collective bargaining, management still decides unilaterally whether or not to make these improvements, or as they tried to do in 2018, to change them. We should be at the table bargaining these conditions in a binding contract, so management can not take them away without our approval.
In October 2021, VW employees and members of the Local 42 Executive Board delivered a letter to management regarding wages and working conditions. Stronger wages support employees and our families, but also strengthen Chattanooga and the quality of work at Volkswagen. We were very encouraged to see that after we spoke, VW started to listen by providing the largest pay increase in the history of our plant. We know we have much more to accomplish together, but this was a significant step.