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UAW announces push to organize nonunion plants after strike wins

After ratifying new contracts with automakers following its weeks-long strike, United Auto Workers (UAW) announced plans Wednesday to try to organize workers at more than a dozen factories not currently part of the union.

The newest push for workplace improvement will organize more than 150,000 autoworkers across 13 different automakers: BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Lucid, Mazda, Mercedes, Nissan, Rivian, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo, the union said in a release.

The announcement comes just days after UAW ratified new contracts with “the Big Three” automakers, Ford, General Motors and Stallantis, after a successful six-week strike earned workers better pay and benefits for years to come.

The union said the strongest push will be at the Toyota assembly complex in Georgetown, Ky., where almost 8,000 employees make Camry, RAV4 and Lexus ES vehicles.

Toyota said it would raise wages at its U.S. factories after the UAW agreement was struck. The company said it will increase wages for hourly workers at the top rate by about 9 percent on Jan. 1. It would also make it easier for workers to reach the top rate wage and increase paid time off.

Honda, Nissan, Subaru and Hyundai increased wages at U.S. factories too, in a move that the union said attempted to stifle organizing efforts.

Still, according to UAW, workers aren’t happy. Jeff Allen, a 29-year-old employee at the Georgetown plan who has had two workplace-related injuries, told the union that earning a raise won’t dissuade workers from organizing.

“We still build a quality vehicle. People take pride in that, but morale is at an all-time low,” Allen said in the UAW release. “They can give you a raise today and jack up your health benefits tomorrow. A union contract is the only way to win that’s fair.”

Automakers that aren’t part of the union depress wages by using a mix of full-time, temporary and contract employees, UAW said.

According to UAW President Shawn Fain, who championed the fight for benefits in the recent strike, the most non-union employees are coming from the South, but the group has seen an overwhelming response from companies in the West and Midwest too.

“The money is there. The time is right. And the answer is simple,” Fain said in a statement. “You don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck. 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.”

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