By Julia Conley
Days after unionized workers at the Big Three automakers voted to ratify their new contracts—secured after the United Auto Workers staged an innovative “stand up strike” that lasted six weeks—the union made clear on Wednesday it has no plans to stop its fight for economic justice for thousands of workers at car manufacturing plants across the United States.
Urging all autoworkers in the U.S. to “stand up,” the UAW launched what pro-labor media organization More Perfect Unioncalled “the largest organizing drive in modern American history,” aiming to bring 150,000 employees at 13 nonunion auto companies into the union.
The UAW announced its campaign with the launch of a new website detailing the skyrocketing profits and CEO pay at firms including Germany’s Volkswagen and Mercedes; Japanese and Korean manufacturers Toyota, Hyundai, and Mazda; and U.S. electric car companies Tesla and Lucid.
At Toyota, for example, top executives have enjoyed a 125% increase in pay as profits have soared 30% in the last decade—but the company is firmly against unionization, offering a 9% raise to nonunion workers shortly after the UAW secured its new contracts, which include a 25% raise over the four-and-a-half year agreement.
Tesla, headed by the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, has doubled its U.S. production since 2020, but the company also remains staunchly anti-union—and Mercedes’ profits have grown by 200% in recent years, but this year the company “spent $1.9 billion on stock buybacks instead of sharing those record profits with their workforce,” said the UAW.
In a video posted on the union’s website, UAW president Shawn Fain urged workers at the 13 nonunion manufacturers to “stand up and win [their] fair share.”
“We’ve shown the world that this industry is harming workers and consumers to the benefit of company executives and the rich—and it’s time that the working class did something about it,” said Fain. “To all the autoworkers out there working without the benefit of a union, now it’s your turn.”
Fain said autoworkers from across the country have been reaching out to the union since it began its stand up strike, in which workers at a few auto plants at a time were called to join the work stoppage in order to preserve the union’s strike fund and gradually show the Big Three the impact of the growing strike.
“We’ve lost so much since I started here, and the raise won’t make up for that,” said Jeff Allen, a worker at Toyota’s Georgetown plant in Kentucky—one of several states where Republicans have passed union-weakening “right-to-work” laws. “A union contract is the only way to win what’s fair.”
Autoworkers across the U.S. “don’t have to like paycheck to paycheck,” Fain said in the video, emphasizing that “the money is there.”
“You don’t have to worry about how you’re gonna pay your rent or feed your family while the company makes billions,” he added. “A better life is out there. It starts with you—UAW.”
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Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.