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Ford, General Motors, Stellantis (which notably owns one of the historic American automobile manufacturers, Chrysler in this case, as well as a few other brands distributed in the United States such as Dodge or RAM), none were able to resist this tsunami protests led vigorously by the main American union in the sector (United Auto Workers or UAW in short).
Its leader, Shawn Fain, is now a major figure in popular protest. He succeeded in bringing down the “Big Three”, these giants of the American automobile industry mentioned above, after nearly 50 days of a historic strike having paralyzed them all, without exception. In the space of a few days, agreements in principle were signed first with Ford, then with Stellantis and finally on October 30 with General Motors. Increase in salaries (entry salary increased by 70% at Ford with a minimum of $30 per hour) or in workforce (5,000 jobs saved at Stellantis and 5,000 additional job creations), the gains are no negligible.
Building on this great victory, the UAW could well continue its momentum and attack other heavyweights in the automobile sector. There’s no point even doing anything. For fear of a snowball effect, Toyota has just granted a 9% increase to its American employees which will take effect on January 1st. But there is one that could be more difficult to bend, Tesla and its implacable leader Elon Musk…
The union supported by Joe Biden
The UAW can count on the support of Joe Biden who seeks to seduce this electorate for his next presidential campaign. Just yesterday, the current President of the United States was traveling to Belvidere, Illinois (the state in which the city of Chicago is located) to support the ex-protesters and let them know that he supported them in their future struggle with Toyota and Tesla. “I want this kind of agreement for all automobile employees,” he proclaimed loud and clear. But to achieve such a result, unionism must still develop among the last two manufacturers named. Precisely, in response to Joe Biden, the Japanese brand announced that it was studying this question very closely. Tesla did not comment.
Elon Musk and unions, a complicated story
And, in any case, the union knows full well that the battle will not be easy. As the press agency recalls Reuters in a recent article, there have been numerous attempts but have always ended in failure. In 2018, for example, the UAW filed a lawsuit in response to a tweet from Musk asking “why pay union dues and give up stock options for nothing.” While specifying that “nothing prevents the Tesla team from our automobile factory (the one in Fremont, editor’s note)”. Since a union tried in the past to push the manufacturer’s employees to unionize, Tesla’s response was simply to thank those who engaged in the fight. In other words, the latter promises to be intense.
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To sum up
The UAW, for United Auto Workers, is the bane of American manufacturers at the moment. And because it emerged victorious from its battle against the “Big Three”, the main automobile union could now attack another tenor of the local industry, Tesla.
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