But to the United Auto Workers president, the agreements that emerged from talks that were marked by six weeks of strikes were merely the start of a victory streak and a renaissance for the 88-year-old union. Now, Fain has set his latest ambitious goal: To gain UAW membership in nonunion companies across the industry — from foreign automakers with U.S. operations like Toyota to electric vehicle makers like Tesla to EV battery plants that will likely represent a sizable share of auto jobs in the decades ahead.
Already, Fain asserted in an interview with The Associated Press, the contracts have benefited workers in nonunion auto companies: Soon after the UAW won major pay raises for its workers, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and Nissan — all nonunion operations — raised their own workers' pay in what Fain characterized as an obvious bid to stop the UAW from unionizing those workforces.
Last week, workers at General Motors, Ford and Stellantis collectively voted 64% to ratify the new settlement deals, which are among the richest contracts in the UAW 88-year history. The agreements ended many wage tiers, gave temporary hires better pay and a path to full-time work and boosted from around 6% to 10% the annual 401(k) contributions for those without pension plans.
According to Fain, workers at some nonunion plants, including the electric vehicle sales leader, Tesla, have contacted the UAW about joining the union, which hasn't even begun its organizing efforts. Fain noted that the nonunion companies didn't raise pay for their workers until after the UAW won general and cost-of-living raises, which should reach 33% by the time the contacts expire in 2028.