As workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga decide whether to join a union, they could be determining whether organized labor begins to regain power in the U.S. employment landscape.

The United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) has been trying to organize employees at internationally owned auto plants in the American South for decades. Automobile manufacturing, historically centered in Detroit, was also historically heavily unionized. But when foreign car makers, like Volkswagen and Toyota, began to expand their manufacturing operations to the U.S., they opened their plants away from Detroit, in the south. Many states in the South have “right to work” laws that make union organizing and operating a union more difficult.

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