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Auto Workers Direct Momentum Toward Organizing Plants Across the U.S.

By Luis Feliz Leon - Labor Notes, November 30, 2023

“The company knows that Toyota workers are watching,” said Auto Workers President Shawn Fain on November 3. “And when the time comes, Toyota workers and all non-union auto workers are going to be ready to stand up.”

That time has come—yesterday the UAW announced its plan, already in motion, to organize the whole auto sector. “Workers across the country, from the West to the Midwest and especially in the South, are reaching out to join our movement and to join the UAW,” said Fain in a new video.

The union says thousands of workers have reached out asking for support in unionizing their auto plants. They’ve scoured the old websites from previous union drives and filled out forms to be put in touch with an organizer.

“To all the auto workers out there working without the benefits of a union: Now it’s your turn,” he said, inviting auto workers to join the organizing push and telling them where they can electronically sign union cards, at UAW.org/join.

Thousands of non-union auto workers are already organizing across the 10 foreign-owned transplants, including Toyota, Hyundai, and Mercedes, as well as in the electric vehicle sector at Tesla, Rivian, and Lucid. Overall, the organizing drive will cover 150,000 workers—roughly the same number of workers covered under the Big 3 contracts—across 13 automakers.

GM agreed to unionize its EV operations. Will others do the same?

By Katie Myers - Grist, October 20, 2023

United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain wore a T-shirt reading “Eat the Rich” and a deadly serious stare when he announced a major development in the union’s monthlong strike: General Motors agreed to include its electric vehicle and battery factories in the forthcoming labor contract. That deal will cover 6,000 employees at four coming GM battery plants.

“We have been told for months this is impossible,” Fain said during the October 6 livestream. “We have been told the EV future must be a race to the bottom. We called their bluff.”

If Fain has made anything clear, it is that he, and the 383,000 people he leads, are not bluffing. In the two weeks since GM’s concession, the union has redoubled its efforts to win similar agreements from Ford and Stellantis. Last week, every one of the 8,700 workers at Ford’s massive Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville joined the picket line, halting production of the company’s line of Super Duty pickup trucks. 

GM’s promise to unionize its EV and battery operations comes after automakers sold 300,000 EVs in the previous quarter, and everyone involved in the labor dispute feels the electric transition is all but inevitable. The strike has increased pressure on the Big Three to include their electrification ventures in the master contracts they hold with United Auto Workers, or UAW. It also could press other automakers to increase pay or agree to unionize if they hope to compete for workers.

Ford’s Money Maker is ON STRIKE, Local President Talks Preparations

Auto Workers Escalate: Surprise Strike at Massive Kentucky Ford Truck Plant

By Keith Brower Brown - Labor Notes, October 11, 2023

Every Friday for the past four weeks, Big 3 CEOs have waited fearfully for Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain to announce which plants will strike next.

But without warning on Wednesday afternoon, the union threw a haymaker: within 10 minutes the UAW would be shutting down the vast Kentucky Truck Plant.

This plant, on 500 acres outside Louisville, is one of Ford’s most profitable—cranking out full-size SUVs and the Superduty line of commercial trucks.

“We make almost half of Ford’s U.S. revenue right here,” says James White, who has worked in the plant for a decade.

These 8,700 strikers join the 25,000 already walking the lines at assembly plants and parts distribution centers across the country in the union’s escalating Stand-Up Strike.

Kentucky UAW Member: I Wish a Media Person Would Work ONE DAY in Our Plant

Kentucky Auto Workers at Ford Are Preparing for a Strike

By Luis Feliz Leon - Labor Notes, August 28, 2023


Members of Auto Workers Local 862 rallied on Thursday in Louisville, Kentucky. They work at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant building Ford Super Duty Trucks, Ford Expeditions, and Lincoln Navigators, and at the Louisville Assembly Plant where they build Ford Escapes and Lincoln Corsairs. A second rally was held on Friday. Photo: Luis Feliz Leon.

Five hundred Auto Workers (UAW) from Local 862 held rallies in Louisville, Kentucky, August 24 and 25, part of a wave of practice pickets and rallies around the country.

Class struggle was on everyone’s lips. A variety of issues brought them to the picket, but the auto workers there were unanimous about turbocharged wealth inequality leaving workers behind.

At the Thursday picket, Local 862 member Aaron Webster said he’s grown tired of feeling squeezed, describing the contract fight as a fight between the rich and the poor.

Webster started working at the Kentucky Truck Plant in 2014 building Ford Super Duty Trucks, Ford Expeditions, and Lincoln Navigators. “As much as I may not want to strike, I believe it's necessary,” he said. He has been saving money and talking to his co-workers in the event Ford is one of the strike targets when the September 14 contract expiration deadline arrives.

Black Lung is Killing Coal Miners Again; They Don’t Have to Die

By Kim Kelly, Union Jake and Adam Keller - The Valley Labor Report, August 16, 2023

Kim Kelly, labor journalist, author of "Fight Like Hell: The Untold Story of American Labor," and friend-of-the-show, joins us to talk about another disease epidemic that no one's talking about that is hurting some of the country's hardest workers.

Read Kim Kelly's full report on how Silica is destroying the lives of coal miners and their families: here.

During Some of the Hottest Months in History, Millions of App Delivery Drivers Are Feeling the Strain

By Gina Jiménez - Inside Climate News, August 15, 2023

Around 4 million people in the U.S. work as contractors for app services like DoorDash delivering pizzas, salads and pad thai. Those in areas with extreme heat are taking new measures to keep working through it.

Jessica Fawcett wakes up at 5:30 a.m. so she can deliver groceries and take-out orders throughout Tempe, Arizona by 6:30 a.m. She has been working 12- to 14-hour shifts for Instacart and DoorDash since December, but lately, the heat in Tempe has been making them harder. 

Some days, Fawcett must walk 20 minutes or climb four floors of stairs in a 116-heat index just to deliver one order. “I joke and say I don’t need to go to the gym because I already walk a lot with this heat,” she says, “I have lost so much weight.” 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported this year’s June was the hottest the Earth has ever registered, and last week the Copernicus Climate Change Service said July was the hottest month ever recorded. High temperatures have continued this month, and over 100 million Americans were under an extreme heat alert at some point during July.

Nevertheless, app delivery workers in states with extreme weather, like Arizona and Texas, have kept working. Some feel the consequences on their health, and others are changing their working hours and carrying around cold water to survive long shifts in the blistering heat. 

“It feels like you are standing in an air fryer or a microwave,” says Hector Mejía, a 30-year-old who has been working doing DoorDash deliveries in Phoenix for around a year. He compares heat these days in Arizona with standing next to a campfire. “It’s almost hard to breathe.” 

The number of people working for app delivery platforms in the U.S. has exponentially increased in the last few years, from just over one million in 2018 to over four million in 2021, a recently published study found. That represents almost three times Amazon’s global workforce. 

While some platform workers like the flexibility of the job, they are especially vulnerable to inclement weather, sickness or any situation that keeps them from working since as independent contractors, their livelihood depends on them being on the streets.

In New York City, app delivery workers have been fighting to get an hourly minimum wage, but in the rest of the country, organization efforts are scarce, said Ligia Guallpa, the executive director of the Workers Justice Project, an organization that has supported app delivery workers in New York. 

Miners Deserve Protection from Black Lung Disease

Targeted Employment: Reconnecting Appalachia’s Disconnected Workforce

By Claire Kovach, Stephen Herzenberg, Amanda Woodrum, and Ted Boettner - ReImagine Institute, Keystone Research Center, Ohio River Valley Institute, July 25, 2023

The Appalachian region has long suffered from not having enough good paying jobs. Even when the unemployment rate is low, too many Appalachians are disconnected from the workforce entirely due to a myriad of factors. The result has been a long-term structural unemployment problem that has persisted for decades, with too many Appalachian adults out of the workforce entirely and unable to secure a decent paying job where they live.

A federal job subsidy program that is targeted at breaking down barriers to employment – such as improving the skills and experience of potential workers to meet current employer demands in their local labor market – and connecting them with a job could not only boost incomes and improve the livelihood of thousands of Appalachians but also give people self-esteem, a source of identity, and feel more connected to their community.

This report examines the economic conditions of Appalachia with a particular focus on the Appalachian counties of four states—Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia—that comprise the footprint of ReImagine Appalachia and the Ohio River Valley Institute. This includes describing how Appalachia has been a “region apart” from the rest of America, including its history of resource extraction and exploitation, the collapse of the steel industry, and now coal, that has led to large employment losses in the area, and how the region’s uneven development has led to chronically low rates of employment, disenfranchisement from the labor market and even loss of hope underpinning the opioid epidemic from which the Appalachian region was particularly hard hit.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

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