The chaos of the UAW strike is not good news for Tesla

The chaos of the UAW strike is not good news for Tesla

  • Great success in The UAW strike it could power another car plan at Tesla.
  • The union effort could also pressure Volkswagen, Honda, and Toyota.

As disgruntled workers revolt at General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis, it’s business as usual at Elon Musk’s Tesla. At least for now.

In a way, the auto worker strike is a boon for non-union automakers — because it can Tesla competitors saddle with additional labor costs at a time when they are trying hard to make a profit on EVs.

But a major contract win for the United Auto Workers might as well to give the union the renewed credibility it needs to organize successful campaigns at Tesla and other non-union factories, labor experts told Insider.

“This is a fight not just for people who work at Ford, GM, and Stellantis, this is a fight for all workers,” Arthur Wheaton, a labor expert at Cornell University, said.

Big pay increases and better job security at the Big Three could make a union more attractive to Tesla workers, Wheaton and other labor experts told Insider this week. Tesla, founded nearly 70 years after the UAW first organized the Detroit Three, is the only major American manufacturer whose workforce is not represented by the union.

Regulatory pressure may also spill over to foreign automakers that build cars in the United States, such as Volkswagen, Honda and Toyota. Those companies may also have to raise wages to meet the new union standard, according to labor experts.

As part of it historic strike at all three Detroit auto companies, the UAW is demanding a massive 40% pay raise, which UAW President Shawn Fain says reflects years of increased benefits and executive paydays. The party’s tough tactics and ambitious questions come as it looks to roll back worker benefits and industry-wide influence that it lost during the Great Recession and through its corruption scandals.

“Aiming for a better future that protects our communities and defeats corporate greed is not just our right — it’s our responsibility,” Fain told members on Friday’s live stream as he expanded the UAW strike to two other Ford and GM plants in Illinois and . Michigan.

The new deal could spur merger attempts elsewhere

The UAW strike comes in the middle a revived labor movement post-Covid, and after a summer jam-packed with union activity. The time has come for the UAW to expand to new territory, labor experts said, especially if it can secure a new hospitality contract.

About 54% of Americans support a UAW strike, according to a recent Morning Consult poll. Meanwhile, the unionization rate in auto manufacturing has fallen to 16% from about 60% in the mid-1980s, said Jake Rosenfeld, a labor union expert at Washington University in St. Louis. Louis, he said.

In a time of stagnant wages and rising corporate profits, the UAW’s central message of fair wages for fair work has resonated with Americans across the union lines, said Kate Andrias, a labor law expert at Columbia University.

“There’s a lot of concern about economic inequality in this country, and the problem of the very, very, very rich being the only ones benefiting from productivity gains and technological advances,” Andrias said.

Planning at Tesla still won’t be easy

Some Tesla workers are in the early stages of forming a union, a UAW official told The New York Times. But rallying Tesla’s workers — who assemble cars, battery packs, solar panels and EV chargers at plants in New York, California, Nevada and Texas — will be an uphill battle even with a hot new contract in hand. The UAW has tried and failed to organize workers at Tesla before.

Current labor laws don’t come with strong enough penalties to prevent an “anti-union company” like Tesla from striking with impunity, Rosenfeld said.

The National Labor Relations Board has found that out before Tesla and Musk violated labor laws after firing the organizer of the union and tweeting an anti-union message. Musk was ordered to hire an employee with back pay and delete the tweet (the tweet still exists).

“If you’re a powerful private corporation dead against the union movement, it’s hard to imagine you’re going to lose that battle,” Rosenfeld said.