Glenn Spencer Glenn Spencer
Senior Vice President, Employment Policy Division, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


March 28, 2024


CHATTANOOGA, TN — In late March the United Auto Workers petitioned the federal National Labor Relations Board to hold an election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. This would be the third time the UAW has tried to organize that facility after having been rejected by employees on previous attempts. The UAW is hoping the third time is the charm.

According to the UAW, 70 percent of the employees at the plant have signed a card indicating support for the union. If so, that would suggest majority support in an upcoming secret ballot vote. But that’s not always how it works out. Sometimes workers will sign cards to avoid confrontation or to get a co-worker off their back, but then vote against the union in the election. That, of course, is why we have secret ballot elections—so that people are free to vote their conscience.

And while the UAW will make unionizing sound wonderful, there are some factors workers might want to consider.

First, unionization brings the possibility of strikes. These strikes not only cause disruption to the plant itself, but also cause significant harm to the local community. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 75,000 jobs were lost due to strikes in 2023. This included 13,000 workers at auto parts suppliers, who were laid off when the UAW went on strike against the Detroit Three auto makers last year. Small businesses and family restaurants also suffer from lost business as the community is disrupted by strikes. The Detroit Three themselves lost an estimated $6 billion during last year’s strike—money that won’t go into research and development or new jobs.

Read the full op-ed here.

About the authors

Glenn Spencer

Glenn Spencer

Spencer oversees the Chamber’s work on immigration, retirement security, traditional labor relations, human trafficking, wage hour and worker safety issues, EEOC matters, and state labor and employment law.

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