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Transition to EVs: a Win for Climate; Let’s Make it a Win for US Workers

By Don Anair - The Equation, October 24, 2023

A global transition to electric transportation is underway and momentum is growing. Traditional and new auto manufacturers are bringing more and more models to market. Even in California, where a tradition of stringent regulation has pushed the industry to innovate over the past 50 years, automakers are selling EVs at levels well above sales requirements. This momentum is spreading across the country with US EV sales now over 9% and climbing.

When a change as big as this is underway, it’s important to understand what impact it can have on employment and to take steps to ensure that workers benefit from the transition and aren’t left behind.

But what is the outlook for jobs in an electric transportation future? Can the EV transition support good, family- and community-supporting jobs and support a strong US economy?  The fundamentals show there’s reason to be optimistic.

The UAW’s Massive Gamble

The UAW Has Set Its Sights on the Anti-Union South

By Alex N. Press - Jacobin, March 8, 2024

In Vance, Alabama, nineteen miles east of Tuscaloosa, workers at the Mercedes-Benz US International (MBUSI) plant make the Mercedes GLE, GLE coupé, and GLS model series as well as the all-electric EQS SUV and EQE. They’ve also started building something else: a union. On the heels of the United Auto Workers’ (UAW) victorious strike against the Big Three automakers last fall, the union has gone on the offensivevowing to organize some 150,000 nonunion autoworkers at thirteen companies across the country.

The union has tried to organize some of these plants before — and failed. The South has proven an almost entirely impenetrable citadel for the entirety of modern US labor history. Yet the UAW is heeding these workers’ calls, directing its focus and $40 million in extra resources to try again, and on a far larger scale.

The UAW has failed before, but now, the context has changed: members’ success at the Big Three has ignited a sense of possibility in their nonunion counterparts, and the union’s new leadership, determined to cast off the corruption of old and trust in the power of the membership and the desire to organize across the entire working class, is encouraging precisely such ambitious thinking. If workers were ever going to pull this one off, now is the time.

The first shop where a majority of workers signed union-authorization cards was Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which employs some 5,500 workers and was the site of previous failed UAW campaigns. On February 27, MBUSI’s workers announced that they were the second plant to reach that milestone, with a majority of the shop’s roughly six thousand employees having signed union cards. (Workers at Hynduai’s plant in Montgomery, Alabama, have also gone public with a UAW campaign, announcing last month that 30 percent of the plant’s four thousand workers have signed union cards.)

Toyota Workers at Critical Engine Plant Launch UAW Union Drive

By Luis Feliz Leon - Labor Network for Sustainability, March 8, 2024

Auto workers at a Toyota engine plant in Troy, Missouri, have signed up 30 percent of their 1,000 co-workers to join the United Auto Workers (UAW)—a first at Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, on the heels of the union’s announcements of organizing campaigns at Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Mercedes-Benz.

Workers at the plant just outside St. Louis build 2.6 million cylinder heads per year. Should they stop building them, it would cut off supplies for all of the company’s engine plants in North America. Toyota is still working to build up its supply of chips and other inventory, following pandemic lockdowns and global supply-chain snarls.

In the body of a vehicle, these cylinder heads are as essential as human lungs, controlling the flow of air and fuel into the combustion chamber, powering a vehicle’s performance on the road.

In a new video, “We Keep Toyota Running,” workers describe the steep cost at which that performance comes. “People say Toyota engines last forever,” a worker says in the video. “We know what makes it possible: our hands, our backs, our knees, our work. We carry the proof every day: injuries, surgeries, disabilities.”

What Did Nick Saban Say to Mercedes Workers in Alabama Amid Union Drive?

The Auto Workers Go All In

By Harold Meyerson - The American Prospect, February 26, 2024

In an event that’s way more groundbreaking than it should be, the United Auto Workers announced last week that it is committing $40 million to organize the workers in the nation’s non-union auto and battery factories: “particularly,” the announcement said, “in the South.”

A union appropriating that level of funding for on-the-ground organizing isn’t something we’ve seen very much, if at all, in recent decades—at least, not in industries where management views their workers as replaceable, which is how management commonly views most workers in manufacturing, retail, transportation, food services, and the like. In the playbook of American business, replaceable workers can be fired for participating in or just supporting an organizing campaign, and even though such firings are illegal, the penalties for violating that law have long been negligible. In going all in to organize the nation’s Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota, Mercedes, Tesla, and other factories, the UAW executive board had three good reasons to think their union could overcome what has been this most daunting of obstacles.

Alabama Auto Workers RESPOND to Mercedes Anti-Union Meeting

The Impact of UAW Forcing Stellantis to Reopen Belvidere

Ford CEO THREATENS American Workers, Shawn Fain CLAPS BACK

UAW Commits $40 Million to Organizing EV Battery Workers

By Julia Conley - Common Dreams, February 21, 2024

With the electric vehicle battery industry expected to add tens of thousands of jobs in the coming years, the United Auto Workers announced Wednesday its plan to ensure the new workers will benefit from labor protections and fair wages.

The UAW's International Executive Board voted Tuesday to commit $40 million to help support and organize nonunion autoworkers and battery workers, said the union.

The decision reflects that "organizing the unorganized and fighting for a just transition for workers in the emerging EV industry are our union's top priority!" said Chris Brooks, an adviser to UAW president Shawn Fain.

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