News & Commentary

February 9, 2024

Holt McKeithan

Holt McKeithan is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s labor news: the majority of VW Chattanooga employees sign union authorization cards, a general strike in Argentina pressures the government, and the Labor Department issues fines for child labor law violations.

The UAW announced that over half of the employees at the Volkswagen Chattanooga plant have signed union authorization cards. The milestone comes only two months after Volkswagen employees launched a unionizing campaign. Chattanooga is home to the German automaker’s only assembly plant based in the United States. In 2014, the plant voted against a union, 712-626. 

The campaign is part of a broader effort to unionize automakers in the south. Following the success of contract negotiations with Big Three automakers, the UAW launched a public campaign to organize the entire nonunion auto sector in the United States in November. Workers at Mercedes in Vance, Alabama and Hyundai in Montgomery, Alabama have announced public campaigns to join the UAW. Both campaigns have crossed the 30% authorization card threshold. 

Argentina president Javier Milei’s libertarian party withdrew an austerity bill from the floor of Argentina’s lower house. This action followed a general strike of millions of workers who protested the bill. The self-described “anarcho-capitalist” president proposed a bill to enact massive deregulation, privatization, layoffs and labor reforms. Over 1.5 million workers walked off the job in protest on January 25. Walkouts and protests have continued since. 

An Alabama roofing company paid $117,175 in penalties following a U.S. Department of Labor investigation into the death of a 15-year worker at its worksite. The Labor Department determined that Apex Roofing & Restoration LLC employed the minor in violation of a child labor law prohibiting minors from engaging in dangerous jobs, including roofing or construction. 

A Popeyes franchisee in the San Francisco Bay Area paid a $212,000 fine after the U.S. Department of Labor found the restaurants employed children as young as 13-years-old. The Labor Department’s investigation found that minors worked outside the hours permitted by child labor laws and that the employer withheld overtime wages. 

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