United Auto Workers Targets Tesla, BMW, and Other Automakers for Unionization

UAW Seeks to Unionize 150,000 Automakers from 13 Companies

The UAW is looking to unionize 150,000 workers from 13 automakers, including Tesla, BMW, Mercedes Benz, and Hyundai, following successful contract negotiations with Ford, GM, and Stellantis. “To all autoworkers working without the benefits of a union: now it’s your turn,” said UAW president Shawn Fain.

The organizing drive targets “more than a dozen” non-union automakers, many of which use a mix of full-time, temporary, and contract employees to divide the workforce and depress wages. The union highlighted the case of a Hyundai assembly plant employee who worked for a subcontractor for eight years starting at $9.25 an hour before becoming a full-time Hyundai employee.

Non-union automakers, including VW, Nissan, Hyundai, Honda, Toyota, and Subaru, raised wages after the UAW’s negotiations with the big three but still “lag far behind UAW autoworkers in wages, benefits, and rights on the job,” the union stated.

The UAW secured a 25 percent raise over four years for workers at the big three automakers, with the highest-paid Ford employees now earning $83,000 annually for a 40-hour work week. The union also achieved the reinstatement of cost-of-living allowances, shorter progression periods to top wages, and a quicker conversion of temporary to in-progression (full-time) employees.

Although Tesla employees previously attempted to unionize, the company reportedly fired some of them for that. However, the claim was dismissed by the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB has also found that Tesla violated labor law by prohibiting employees from discussing workplace matters.

Meanwhile, startup Rivian has faced worker complaints, with one chassis worker stating, “The company likes to tell us we’re making the plane while flying it, and that explains a lot about the problems we have.” The worker highlighted concerns about safety issues, high turnover rates, low pay, and forced overtime, stating, “there are so many reasons we need to be union.”