This does seem to be a tradition for the boys from Wolfsburg:
“I’m only 33 and I can’t see myself working here for another 10 years,” said Ashley Murray. “I would be disabled by then. We need a union because they are a multibillion-dollar company and they treat us like shit.”
Murray is a production employee at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, one of 18 hourly employees there I interviewed for this story. Comments like hers were almost universal.
According to these workers, on-the-job injuries are among the top issues at the sprawling plant nestled in the Appalachian mountains of East Tennessee. The union authorization election runs Wednesday through Friday this week; 1,700 workers are eligible to vote.
Many workers told variations of the same story. For the first time in their lives, they’re making good money—but they’re trapped in a job that’s chewing them up.
“My co-workers are getting hurt, I’ve been hurt, there is constant threat of injury, and if it doesn’t change, none of us will survive,” said one worker who’s been at Volkswagen for eight years but asked to remain anonymous for fear of management retaliation.
“I shouldn’t have to give Volkswagen my body in exchange for the house that I live in and the lifestyle I try to provide for my family.” Workers described a plant where high turnover and dangerous conditions lead to serious injuries, most commonly in the hands and shoulders. Some of the workers I met now suffer from lifelong disabilities.
Yeah, that whole, “Foreign workers in German factories,” thing?