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A victory celebration photo after Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, TN successfully voted to unionize on April 19, 2024

A victory celebration photo after Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, TN successfully voted to unionize on April 19, 2024. | Photo credit: Diana Hussein

Tennessee Volkswagen Plant Unionizes in Breakthrough for United Auto Workers

April 24, 2024

Tennessee Volkswagen Plant Unionizes in Breakthrough for United Auto Workers

Ask students: How is the vote to unionize a Volkswagen plant unusual or notable? What is United Auto Workers, and who does the organization represent?

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Employees at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have overwhelmingly voted to join the United Auto Workers union. It’s the first time workers at a foreign car maker’s plant in the American South have unionized, giving UAW a foothold in the least-unionized region of the country. John Yang speaks with New York Times reporter Noam Scheiber to learn more.

View the transcript of the story.

Remote video URL

Discussion Questions

  1. Where is the Volkswagen plant that voted to unionize?
  2. How is the vote to unionize a Volkswagen plant unusual or notable?
  3. What is United Auto Workers, and who does the organization represent?
  4. Why did the workers who voted for it think a union was needed?
  5. Who has argued against forming a union at the plant in the past, and why?

Focus Questions

  • The guest for this story, Noam Scheiber, says that support among the public for unions is high (over 70% based on polling) and higher than it's been in the previous decade. Why do you think support for unions has grown?
  • Why do you think governors in some states oppose unions despite their increasing popular backing?
  • Media literacy: How could you find out how communities in Chattanooga, Tennessee (where the plant that unionized is located) feel about the move to unionize?

Extension Actviity

Learn a little more about the history of labor unions in the U.S. with this explainer. Then discuss as a class — how has the role of unions changed through the decades?

Learn More About the Labor Movement

Do your students know about the history of the labor movement? Help students learn about impact labor activists have had on the course of history, the importance of workers' rights and worker safety.

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Classroom.

PBS NewsHour Classroom
PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news... See More
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