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United Auto Workers Launches Campaign to Unionize Nonunion Factories

The United Automobile Workers union has announced a new initiative with the goal of organizing plants owned by more than a dozen nonunion automakers, including Tesla and several foreign companies. This is a significant endeavor for the U.A.W., as it has struggled to achieve this objective in the past. The recent contracts secured from General Motors, Ford Motor, and Stellantis included substantial wage increases for its 146,000 members.

The targeted companies for the organizing drive include Tesla, Lucid, Rivian, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Volkswagen, Mazda, and Volvo. Combined, these companies employ nearly 150,000 workers across 13 states.

If successful, this organizing drive could mark one of the largest accomplishments for the U.A.W. in decades. Historically, the union has struggled to organize even single plants owned by foreign automakers, especially those located in the South. However, with the significant ongoing inquiries from workers at nonunion plants, the U.A.W. is optimistic about the potential success of this campaign.

The union has established websites for workers to electronically sign cards indicating their desire for union representation. Additionally, a significant percentage of the workforce from several plants has already signed these cards, meeting the threshold required under federal law to move forward with a vote on unionization.

After securing wage increases from the Detroit automakers, the U.A.W. is now making a focused effort to organize a large Toyota plant in Kentucky, which employs about 7,800 workers. It is important to note that historically, U.A.W. members have earned more than nonunion workers, and the recent wage gains at Detroit companies have strengthened the case for joining the union.

The U.A.W.’s President, Shawn Fain, expressed that workers across the country are interested in joining the U.A.W., and the union is working to send organizers to areas around nonunion plants to collaborate with workers.

It’s notable that companies like Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai have also announced plans to increase workers’ pay following the wage gains at the Detroit companies. Such developments have strengthened the U.A.W.’s case for unionization.

The U.A.W. has encountered challenges in the past decade with unionization votes at various plants, however, the union is optimistic about the current efforts, particularly under the leadership of its new president, Mr. Fain. Additionally, the U.A.W. has vowed to renew efforts to widen its reach in the industry.

Overall, the U.A.W.’s recent successes with wage gains and job preservation have strengthened its efforts to unionize nonunion plants.

Past challenges faced by the U.A.W., such as a tarnished image and negative associations, have largely dissipated. This, combined with the recent successes and ongoing efforts, has created a stronger case for unionization, according to labor studies experts.

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