UAW launches campaign to unionize all automakers
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The United Auto Workers union said on Wednesday it is launching a first-ofits-kind push to publicly organize the entire nonunion auto sector in the U.S. after winning new contracts with the Detroit Three automakers.
The Detroit-based UAW said workers at 13 nonunion automakers were announcing simultaneous campaigns across the country to join the union, including at Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Rivian, Nissan, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Those automakers employ nearly 150,000 workers at their U.S. assembly plants, about the same number as those employed by the Detroit Three companies with which the UAW just signed new labor agreements, the union said.
“To all the auto workers out there working without the benefits of a union, now it’s your turn,” UAW President Shawn Fain said in a video posted on a website urging auto workers to sign electronic cards seeking union representation.
“The money is there. The time is right,” he added. “You don’t have to worry about how you’re going to pay your rent or feed your family while the company makes billions. A better life is out there.”
The UAW’s deals with General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis included a 25 percent increase in base wages through 2028, cut the time needed to reach top pay to three years from eight years, boosted the pay of temporary workers by 150 percent and made them permanent employees.
The UAW detailed its organizing strategy. The union said if 30 percent of workers at a nonunion plant sign cards seeking to join, it would make that public. If 50 percent of workers seek to join, the UAW would hold a rally with Fain to tout the effort. At 70 percent and with an organizing committee in place, the UAW would seek recognition or demand a union representation vote.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, when asked about the UAW’s efforts at the New York Times DealBook Summit Wednesday, said: “I disagree with the idea of unions.” He said if Tesla is unionized, “it’ll be because we deserve it and we failed in some way.”
Tesla is the world’s largest electric vehicle maker by market value.
Other automakers the UAW is targeting include Honda, Subaru, Mazda, Lucid and Volvo Cars.
Honda was cool to the idea of union representation at its U.S. plants. “We do not believe an outside party would enhance the excellent employment experience of our associates, nor would it improve upon the outstanding track record of success and employment stability Honda manufacturing associates in America have achieved,” it said in a statement.
A Subaru spokesman said the Japanese automaker has “consistently demonstrated a commitment to proactively do the right thing for its associates.”
Officials with Toyota, Rivian and Volkswagen declined to comment and the other automakers could not immediately be reached.
The UAW effort with the nonunion automakers echoes the approach it took with the Detroit Three, where the union negotiated simultaneously with all three in reaching an agreement after a sixweek strike.
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