UAW plans to unionize Toyota and other nonunion automakers

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【Summary】The United Auto Workers (UAW) is planning to launch organizing drives at nonunion automakers, including Toyota and Tesla. UAW leaders are capitalizing on recent successful bargaining with the Detroit Three automakers and are using the record wage increases as a means to attract workers at nonunion factories. The UAW has tried and failed in the past to organize nonunion auto factories, but recent wage increases and a desire for reform within the UAW have increased their chances of success.

FutureCar Staff    Nov 03, 2023 4:21 PM PT
UAW plans to unionize Toyota and other nonunion automakers

Leaders of the United Auto Workers (UAW) are planning to expand their organizing efforts beyond the Detroit Three automakers. The UAW aims to launch organizing drives at Toyota, Tesla, and other nonunion U.S. auto factories. The decision comes after Toyota agreed to increase wages for U.S. workers by 9 percent and reduce the time it takes for new hires to reach the top pay rate. Other foreign automakers, such as Honda, are also reviewing recent wage hikes in the auto sector and considering their options to remain competitive.

Toyota has emphasized the importance of working together with its plant workers, stating that the decision to unionize ultimately lies with the employees. UAW president Shawn Fain is expected to address the union's new contract with Stellantis in a video message. Fain has expressed the union's determination to organize workers at Toyota, Tesla, and other nonunion automakers, leveraging the record wage increases achieved through agreements with Stellantis, General Motors, and Ford. The UAW has been receiving numerous calls from workers at nonunion auto factories, particularly from Toyota's assembly operation in Georgetown, Kentucky.

Tim Smith, UAW Region 8 director, highlighted the importance of considering total wages and benefits rather than just the wage rate. He mentioned that the UAW has been successful in securing a raise for workers and is ready to educate and support Toyota workers if they choose to join the union. The UAW has faced challenges in organizing nonunion U.S. auto factories due to right-to-work labor laws and resistance from some automakers. However, the union remains determined to expand its reach and organize workers at these facilities.

The UAW's efforts to organize workers at Tesla's Fremont, California, factory in the past were unsuccessful. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been vocal about his opposition to unionization, questioning the benefits of paying union dues and giving up stock options. The UAW filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over Musk's tweet, and the NLRB ruled that it violated labor laws. Despite these setbacks, the UAW continues to pursue its goal of organizing workers at nonunion automakers.

The UAW's organizing efforts have been hindered by a federal investigation into corruption within the union's leadership. However, UAW president Shawn Fain has promised to bring about wide-ranging reform. Nonunion automakers, including Toyota, have kept hourly wages close to UAW rates but have lower overall labor costs due to lower health and retirement benefit expenses and the use of temporary workers. As the UAW secures agreements for pay increases and improved benefits, the cost gap between unionized and nonunion automakers is expected to widen.

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