Monday, 2 October 2023

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UAW strike: Shawn Fain says Tesla will be next following deal hopes with Ford, General Motors, Stellantis

UAW strike: Shawn Fain says Tesla will be next following deal hopes with Ford, General Motors, Stellantis

Union leader Shawn Fain has a message for Elon Musk: after the United Auto Workers (UAW) secure a historic pay hike for staff at Detroit’s Big 3, he’s coming for Tesla next.

Before workers had downed their tools at General Motors, Ford and Stellantis last Friday, many pundits and publications—Fortune included— crowned Musk, a staunch union-opponent, the apparent winner of the strike. 

Without higher UAW wages to worry about, Musk’s unit labor costs would become even more competitive—potentially even expanding his already dominant 60% stake in electric vehicle sales in the U.S. market.

Speaking to CBS news program Face The Nation, Fain dismissed claims his demands for 40% more pay over four years would push companies like Ford out of business.

“Competitive is a code word for race to the bottom,” he said on Sunday. “We have to bargain a good contract and then we’re going to go organize these places, and bring these workers in so they get their fair share.”

Prior to last week, the UAW had never called for a strike at all three incumbent U.S. carmakers, preferring to single out and make only one an example in the hopes of improving conditions for its members across all three. 

By going toe-to-toe with the trio at the same time, the union may be expressing a wish to convince non-unionized plant workers that the group truly has the power to improve their lives.

“Workers in this country gotta decide if they want a better life for themselves instead of scraping to get by paycheck to paycheck while everybody else walks away with the loot,” Fain said. “People join the UAW because we set the standard. People join unions because it’s a better way of life.”

The pandemic and chip crisis helped industry profits

Workers at Tesla—which couldn’t be reached by Fortune for comment—could be receptive to organizing now that the company’s shares, long an effective incentive, have effectively flatlined over the past two years.

And after four years during which the UAW claims CEO pay at the Big 3 soared 40%, Fain feels the time has come to reward employees with the same deal.

“The membership is fed up with falling behind,” he told the program. “Especially this past decade, the wealthiest time in the history of these companies, there is no excuse. These companies have made a quarter of a trillion dollars in the last ten years.” 

In 2019, the last time its members downed tools, shopfloor…

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