CHATTANOOGA (dpa-AFX) - Workers at Volkswagen's US plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have decided to unionize for the third time. For the US union UAW, which wants to extend its influence beyond the three American car giants, this is considered a major victory. According to VW and the union, 73 percent of workers voted in favor of being represented by the UAW in the vote that ended on Friday. The result still has to be confirmed by the US NLRB. The ID.4 electric SUV and the seven-seater Atlas are among the vehicles produced at the plant, which employs around 5,500 people.

US President Joe Biden, who was the first head of state to take part in a UAW warning strike in the state of Michigan in the fall, personally congratulated the workers. "Once again, I am proud to stand with workers in the auto industry as they successfully unionize at Volkswagen," Biden wrote in a White House statement. Among other things, this should help to increase workers' wages.

The UAW union has failed twice in recent years to organize the workforce at the Chattanooga plant. However, the UAW currently has a tailwind: last fall, after a week-long strike at the US companies General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, it won better working conditions and income increases of around 25 percent.

It traditionally has a strong presence in Michigan, the cradle of the US car industry. In contrast, the union has had a difficult time in the southern US states and in the plants of foreign car manufacturers. It has also not yet managed to get a foot in the door at electric car manufacturer Tesla. In recent decades, German car manufacturers had also built plants in the southern states of the USA in particular, because wages were lower there than in Michigan. Now, according to experts, the UAW could also score points with VW competitors there in the future. "We are building power and momentum and will no longer allow corporations to put pressure on workers," a UAW spokeswoman told Handelsblatt.

With 3613 votes cast, 83.5 percent of workers reportedly took part in the vote. Of these, 2628 voted in favor of representation by the UAW. IG Metall at Volkswagen emphasized on Saturday that Chattanooga was the only factory of the core VW brand without employee representation. The President of the European and Global Works Council at Volkswagen, Daniela Cavallo, said that the workforce in Chattanooga had "written a piece of US trade union history". VW tersely thanked the workers for voting./so/mi/DP/jha