UAW begins drive to unionize workers at Tesla, Toyota and other non-unionized automakers


The United Auto Workers union said its next target is to unionize factory workers at Lucid, Rivian, Tesla and 10 foreign automakers, a move that comes after it garnered new employment contracts from Detroit’s Big Three automakers.

BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Mazda, Mercedes, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo are based overseas but all have manufacturing operations in the U.S. Because these companies have brought in billions of dollars in profit over the past decade, their hourly factory workers deserve to make more money, UAW President Shawn Fain said in a video Wednesday.

Also on the union’s list are U.S. factories run by electric vehicle sales leader Tesla, as well as EV startups Rivian and Lucid. All three are U.S.-based companies.

“To all the autoworkers out there working without the benefits of a union, now it’s your turn,” he said, urging autoworkers to join the UAW’s membership drive campaign.

Tesla and other dozen automakers targeted by the UAW have long used non-unionized workers at their plants. The UAW said its drive will focus largely on factories in the South, where the union has had little success in recruiting new members. Currently, the UAW has about 146,000 members.

Still, Fain said thousands of non-unionized workers have contacted the UAW and asked to join the organization ever since the union ratified pay raises for employees at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis (the parent company of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram). 

The union said that Toyota’s 7,800-worker assembly complex in Georgetown, Kentucky, is among factories with the strongest interest in the union. A Toyota spokesman declined to comment.

The organizing drive comes after a six-week series of strikes at factories run by Ford, General Motors and Jeep maker Stellantis that ended with new contracts. Under the contracts, top assembly plant worker pay will rise 33% by the time the deals expire in April of 2028. 

The new contracts also ended some lower tiers of wages, gave raises to temporary workers and shortened the time it takes for full-time workers to get to the top of the pay scale.

—With reporting by the Associated Press.



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