The United Auto Workers union said Wednesday it is trying to unionize employees at 13 companies that build cars in the U.S.
The union said the simultaneous push covers BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Lucid, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Rivian, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo. Forming unions at all of those companies would add 150,000 members to the UAW, according to the union. That would roughly double its size.
The UAW’s members ratified new contracts with Ford, General, Motors and Stellantis, the parent company of Fiat Chrysler, early last week. Those contracts will increase members’ pay by 25% over four years, and they come with improved benefits, such as cost-of-living adjustments, faster paths to greater wages and increased retirement contributions.
The autoworkers union has long had its sights on other carmakers beyond Detroit’s Big Three, and those companies are aware of that fact. Toyota gave raises to its workers shortly after the UAW announced its new contracts with the Big Three, and several other companies reportedly did the same. That was most likely intended to sap some momentum from future union drives.
In an emailed statement, Honda said that it maintains respectful workplaces with competitive pay and benefits.
‘We do not believe an outside party would enhance the excellent employment experience of our associates, nor would it improve upon the outstanding track record of success and employment stability Honda manufacturing associates in America have achieved,’ the company said.
The launch of the union drive is in keeping with the dramatic style the UAW adopted under its new president, Shawn Fain. On Sept. 15, the UAW went on strike against Ford, GM and Stellantis simultaneously for the first time. A combined 13,000 people walked off the job at three facilities, and more slowly went on strike over the subsequent six weeks.
The union called it a ‘Stand Up Strike’ in a nod to a historic UAW campaign. And Fain often criticized ‘corporate greed’ and the billionaire class and spoke of greater power for workers around the world, themes that went beyond the UAW’s dispute with the Big Three.
‘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,’ Fain told employees of those companies in a statement.
The UAW’s new contract will expire on April 30, 2028, and Fain has publicly been encouraging unions in other industries to set their contracts to end at that time, as well. That would set the stage for a larger general strike on May 1 of that year, a date long associated with the organized labor movement.