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    VW Workers in Tennessee Vote for Union

    The Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga is set to become the first unionized auto factory in the South not owned by one of Detroit’s Big Three.In a landmark victory for organized labor, workers at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee have voted overwhelmingly to join the United Automobile Workers union, becoming the first nonunion auto plant in a Southern state to do so.The company said in a statement late Friday that the union had won 2,628 votes, with 985 opposed, in a three-day election. Two earlier bids by the U.A.W. to organize the Chattanooga factory over the last 10 years were narrowly defeated.The outcome is a breakthrough for the labor movement in a region where anti-union sentiment has been strong for decades. And it comes six months after the U.A.W. won record wage gains and improved benefits in negotiations with the Detroit automakers.The U.A.W. has for more than 80 years represented workers employed by General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis, the producer of Chrysler, Jeep, Ram and Dodge vehicles, and has organized some heavy-truck and bus factories in the South.But the union had failed in previous attempts to organize any of the two dozen automobile factories owned by other companies across an area stretching from South Carolina to Texas and as far north as Ohio and Indiana.With the victory in Chattanooga, the U.A.W. will turn its focus to other Southern plants. A vote will take place in mid-May at a Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance, Ala., near Tuscaloosa. The U.A.W. is hoping to organize a half-dozen or more plants over the next two years.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    VW Workers in Tennessee Start Vote on U.A.W., Testing Union Ambitions

    The United Automobile Workers hopes contract gains at the Big Three carmakers will provide momentum in a broad effort to organize nonunion plants.Last fall the United Automobile Workers union won big pay increases from the Detroit automakers, and the impact rippled quickly through the nonunion auto plants scattered across the South.Afterward, Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen, Nissan, Hyundai and Tesla raised wages for their own hourly workers in the United States, none of whom are unionized. On production lines in Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and elsewhere, those pay increases have been referred to as the “U.A.W. bump.”Now 4,300 workers at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., will test whether the union can achieve an even greater bump. On Wednesday, they begin voting on whether to join the U.A.W., and the prospects of a union victory appear high. About 70 percent of the workers pledged to vote yes before the union asked for a vote, according to the U.A.W.“I think our chances are excellent,” said Kelcey Smith, 48, who has worked in the VW plant’s paint department for a year and is a member of a committee working to build support for the U.A.W. “The energy is high. I think we are going to nail it.”Volkswagen has presented reasons it believes a union is not needed at the plant, including pay that is above average for the Chattanooga region. But it has also said it encourages all workers to vote in the election, which is to conclude on Friday, and decide for themselves. “No one will lose their job for voting for or against the union,” a company spokesman said.The stakes go beyond the Tennessee plant, Volkswagen’s only U.S. factory. A victory there would add fuel to the U.A.W.’s push to extend its presence to the more than two dozen nonunion auto plants in the United States, mostly clustered in Southern states where union resistance has been strong historically, and where right-to-work laws make it hard for unions to organize workers.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Mercedes-Benz Workers in Alabama Ask for Unionization Vote

    The United Automobile Workers union is mounting its most ambitious effort to gain an industry foothold beyond Detroit’s Big Three.Workers at a Mercedes-Benz factory in Alabama have petitioned federal officials to hold a vote on whether to join the United Automobile Workers, the union said on Friday, a step forward for its drive to organize workers at car factories in the South.The union is trying to build on the momentum from the contracts it won last year at Ford Motor, General Motors and Stellantis, which gave workers at the three Detroit carmakers their biggest raises in decades.The U.A.W. is also trying to organize workers at a Volkswagen factory in Tennessee and a Hyundai factory in Alabama, establishing a bigger presence in states that have drawn much of the new investment in automobile manufacturing in recent decades. A vote at the Volkswagen plant is scheduled for April 17 to 19.The drive has taken on added importance as Southern states like South Carolina and Georgia attract billions of dollars in investment in electric vehicle and battery manufacturing. The U.A.W. is trying to ensure that jobs created by electric vehicles do not pay less than jobs at traditional auto factories.A large majority of workers at the Mercedes plant, near Tuscaloosa, had earlier signed cards expressing support for a vote. On Friday they formally petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to hold an election on whether to be represented by the U.A.W., the union said.Mercedes, which makes luxury sport utility vehicles in Alabama, said in a statement that it “fully respects our team members’ choice whether to unionize” and that it would ensure that workers had “access to the information necessary to make an informed choice.”Southern states have traditionally been difficult territory for unions, in some cases because of legislation unfavorable to organized labor or because elected officials openly campaigned against unions. The lack of a strong union presence is probably one reason the region has attracted a big share of auto industry investment.Attempts in 2014 and 2019 to organize Volkswagen’s factory in Chattanooga, where the German company makes the Atlas sport utility vehicle and ID.4 electric S.U.V., failed in part because of opposition from Republican elected officials in Tennessee.Toyota, Volkswagen and other carmakers raised hourly wages after the union won pay increases for Ford, G.M. and Stellantis workers. Still, the nonunion workers tend to earn less. In many cases, pay is less of an issue than work schedules, health benefits and time off.In a video on Friday, the U.A.W. president, Shawn Fain, said workers were fighting for “work-life balance, good health care you can afford, a better life for your family.”The union has complained to the National Labor Relations Board that Mercedes has retaliated against organizers in Alabama. The carmaker denied the accusations, saying it “has not interfered with or retaliated against any team member in their right to pursue union representation.” More

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    Baltimore Bridge Collapse Creates Upheaval at Largest U.S. Port for Car Trade

    The Baltimore bridge disaster on Tuesday upended operations at one of the nation’s busiest ports, with disruptions likely to be felt for weeks by companies shipping goods in and out of the country — and possibly by consumers as well.The upheaval will be especially notable for auto makers and coal producers for whom Baltimore has become one of the most vital shipping destinations in the United States.As officials began to investigate why a nearly 1,000-foot cargo ship ran into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in the middle of the night, companies that transport goods to suppliers and stores scrambled to get trucks to the other East Coast ports receiving goods diverted from Baltimore. Ships sat idle elsewhere, unsure where and when to dock.“It’s going to cause a lot of chaos,” said Paul Brashier, vice president for drayage and intermodal at ITS Logistics.The closure of the Port of Baltimore is the latest hit to global supply chains, which have been strained by monthslong crises at the Panama Canal, which has had to slash traffic because of low water levels; and the Suez Canal, which shipping companies are avoiding because of attacks by the Houthis on vessels in the Red Sea.The auto industry now faces new supply headaches.Last year, 570,000 vehicles were imported through Baltimore, according to Sina Golara, an assistant professor of supply chain management at Georgia State University. “That’s a huge amount,” he said, equivalent to nearly a quarter of the current inventory of new cars in the United States.Baltimore Ranks in the Top 20 U.S. PortsTotal trade in 2021 in millions of tons

    Source: Bureau of Transportation StatisticsElla KoezeWe are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    After Gains at Big Three, U.A.W. Aims at Nonunion Plants

    A looming union election at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga could determine the trajectory of union organizing at more than a dozen auto factories.When Shawn Fain, the United Automobile Workers president, unveiled the deal that ended six weeks of strikes at Ford Motor in the fall, he framed it as part of a longer campaign. Next, he declared, would be the task of organizing nonunion plants across the country.“One of our biggest goals coming out of this historic contract victory is to organize like we’ve never organized before,” he said at the time. “When we return to the bargaining table in 2028, it won’t just be with the Big Three. It will be the Big Five or Big Six.”Four months later, the first test of that strategy has come into focus, and it features a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.According to the union, more than half of over 4,000 eligible workers have signed cards indicating support for a union. Workers say they have done so because they want higher pay, more paid time off and more generous health benefits — and because the recent strikes at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis persuaded them that a union can help win these concessions.“The Big Three, they had their big campaign, and their big strike and vote, and new contracts — we paid attention to that very closely,” said Yolanda Peoples, who has worked at the Volkswagen plant for nearly 13 years.The Volkswagen plant announced an 11 percent pay increase shortly after the strikes at the Big Three. The raise brought the top hourly wage for production workers to $32.40, but the comparable wage for the Detroit automakers will exceed $40 by the end of the new contracts. (Volkswagen said the wage adjustment was part of a yearly review.)We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Auto Insurance Spike Hampers the Inflation Fight

    Costlier vehicles and repairs are pushing premiums higher even as the increase in U.S. consumer prices is tapering overall.Job growth, wage growth and business growth are all lively, and inflation has steeply fallen from its 2022 highs. But consumer sentiment, while improving, is still sour.One reason may be sticker shock from some highly visible prices — even as overall inflation has calmed. The cost of car insurance is a key example.Motor vehicle insurance rose 1.4 percent on a monthly basis in January alone and has risen 20.6 percent over the past year, the largest jump since 1976. It has been a huge hit for those driving the roughly 272 million private and commercial vehicles registered in the country. And it has played a part in dampening the “mission accomplished” mood on inflation that was bubbling up in markets at the beginning of the year.According to a recent private-sector estimate, the average annual premium for full-coverage car insurance in 2024 is $2,543, compared with $2,014 in 2023 and $1,771 in 2022.That spike has a variety of causes, but the central one is straightforward: Cars and trucks are pricier now, so insurance for them is, too.The annual change in the cost of car insurance

    Note: Data is the year-over-year percentage change in motor vehicle insurance per the U.S. city average, not seasonally adjusted.Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor StatisticsBy The New York TimesWe are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    For Michigan’s Economy, Electric Vehicles Are Promising and Scary

    Last fall, Tiffanie Simmons, a second-generation autoworker, endured a six-week strike at the Ford Motor factory just west of Detroit where she builds Bronco S.U.V.s. That yielded a pay raise of 25 percent over the next four years, easing the pain of reductions that she and other union workers swallowed more than a decade ago.But as Ms. Simmons, 38, contemplates prospects for the American auto industry in the state that invented it, she worries about a new force: the shift toward electric vehicles. She is dismayed that the transition has been championed by President Biden, whose pro-labor credentials are at the heart of his bid for re-election, and who recently gained the endorsement of her union, the United Automobile Workers.The Biden administration has embraced electric vehicles as a means of generating high-paying jobs while cutting emissions. It has dispensed tax credits to encourage consumers to buy electric cars, while limiting the benefits to models that use American-made parts.But autoworkers fixate on the assumption that electric cars — simpler machines than their gas-powered forebears — will require fewer hands to build. They accuse Mr. Biden of jeopardizing their livelihoods.“I was disappointed,” Ms. Simmons said of the president. “We trust you to make sure that Americans are employed.”Tiffanie Simmons works in Wayne, Mich., at a Ford Motor factory that builds Broncos.Nick Hagen for The New York TimesMs. Simmons’s union has endorsed President Biden, but “I was disappointed” in him, she said.Nick Hagen for The New York TimesWe are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Ford Reports Quarterly Loss but Says Sales Grew

    Ford Motor attributed the loss in the fourth quarter to charges related to pension plans and a restructuring of overseas operations.Ford Motor said it lost $526 million in the final three months of 2023, mainly as a result of special charges related to its employee pension programs and the reorganization of some of its overseas operations.The automaker said its fourth-quarter revenue rose to $46 billion, from $44 billion a year earlier, thanks to strong sales of internal-combustion vehicles and light commercial trucks.The division of the company that makes gasoline and hybrid vehicles earned $813 million before interest and taxes in the fourth quarter, and its commercial vehicle division made $1.8 billion. The unit that makes electric vehicles lost $1.6 billion.John Lawler, Ford’s chief financial officer, said the company’s profit in the fourth quarter was also hurt by an extended strike by the United Automobile Workers union, and higher labor costs stemming from the new contract it signed with the U.A.W.“You adjust for those two factors, and you see a pretty strong quarter,” Mr. Lawler said in a conference call.Ford had previously said the strike reduced its pretax profit by $1.7 billion in 2023.Looking ahead, Ford said it expected to make between $10 billion and $12 billion in adjusted earnings before taxes and interest this year.Ford reported a profit of $4.3 billion in 2023, compared with a $2 billion loss in 2022. Revenue in 2023 rose to $176 billion, up from $158 billion in 2022. The company said its 58,000 U.A.W. workers would be paid profit-sharing bonuses of up to $10,400 based on its performance in 2023.The automaker said it wanted to improve its financial performance by investing less in some areas, like electric vehicles, while setting higher profit goals for the projects it was still putting money in. “Simply ‘good’ isn’t good enough and investments are going to projects that have credible plans to deliver their targeted returns,” Mr. Lawler said in a statement.Ford shares were up about 6 percent in extended trading after it reported earnings. More