Non-union auto workers seek UAW membership

Written by Laura Miller

Non-union workers at 13 automakers are making moves to join the Detroit-based United Auto Workers (UAW) union.

Nearly 150,000 workers at BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Lucid, Mazda, Mercedes, Nissan, Rivian, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo are signing union authorization cards and publicly organizing to become UAW members, according to the union.

The union said this is an “unprecedented effort to publicly organize the entire non-union auto sector at once. … The new aggressive strategy is reflective of a new era of working-class leverage and workplace organizing.”

UAW President Shawn Fain had signaled in the past that there would be efforts to unionize the non-union automakers, especially after record contracts were won with the “Big Three” Detroit-area automakers: Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis.

Seeing the success of the UAW’s ‘stand-up strike’ against the Big Three, some non-union automakers offered workers raises and decided to shorten wage progressions. These were attempts, however, “to lower autoworkers’ expectations,” according to the union.

“UAW members at the Big Three showed what’s possible when workers stand up and fight. Now auto workers across the country are joining our fight,” the UAW said in an email.

The UAW has a webpage reaching out to non-union auto workers. It points out how much each automaker’s profits have soared over the past few years. Links are provided for workers to sign their UAW authorization cards.

A majority of workers must sign union authorization cards before they can formally ask their employer for voluntary recognition, according to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Bargaining can begin once the employer recognizes the union. Should an employer refuse to recognize the unionization efforts, the workers must file a petition for an election with the NLRB, or workers may be able to strike for recognition.

Laura Miller

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