Push to Unionize Automobile Workers

by Warren Seah

The United Auto Workers (UAW) is embarking on an ambitious campaign to unionize workers not only at Tesla Inc., but also at Toyota Motor Corp.’s U.S. operations and several other major carmakers. This organizing drive aims to cover nearly 150,000 automobile workers across at least 13 different companies.

Earlier this month, the UAW successfully ratified a four-year contract with the Big Three U.S. carmakers – Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., and Stellantis NV – following six weeks of strikes at multiple plants and facilities. This contract brings significant victories for workers, including pay raises of approximately 25% over the contract’s lifespan, cost-of-living adjustments, the elimination of various wage tiers, and enhanced retirement benefits.

Throughout the strikes, UAW President Shawn Fain repeatedly emphasized the union’s commitment to expand its reach beyond its traditional Midwest stronghold by focusing on unionizing efforts at non-union carmakers.

Currently, foreign carmakers such as Honda Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG, whose major factories are located in the Southeast, do not have unionized workers. Similarly, employees at Tesla and Rivian Automotive Inc., with car-making factories in California, Texas, Illinois, and Georgia, remain non-union as well.

Of particular note is the UAW’s “strongest campaign” at Toyota’s Georgetown assembly complex in Kentucky, where 7,800 workers manufacture Toyota Camrys, RAV 4 SUVs, and other vehicles.

UAW President Shawn Fain urged all non-union auto workers to seize this opportunity, stating in a video message: “To all the auto workers out there working without the benefits of a union: Now it’s your turn.”

It’s worth mentioning that Toyota and other carmakers announced raises for their workers around the same time as the tentative agreement reached between the UAW and the companies.

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