WASHINGTON, D.C. — A majority of U.S. Democratic Senators are calling on the Big Three automakers to support a just transition to electric vehicles (EVs) in their ongoing contract talks with the UAW.

In a letter released today, the Senators said, “Profits should translate to gains for workers. It is unacceptable that in the midst of extreme financial gains for the companies, executives, and investors, the workers making the electric vehicle batteries that will enable a transition to clean energy vehicles are making poverty-level wages. Before the expiration of UAW’s contract, we urge you to announce that all electric vehicle workers at these joint ventures will be folded into the national UAW contract.”

The UAW contract expires on Sept. 14, and it covers 150,000 autoworkers at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.

In a statement, UAW President Shawn Fain said, “These senators agree that now is the time to ensure all autoworkers have the same pay and safety standards that generations of UAW members have fought for and maintained. This senate letter puts a spotlight on EV workers and the need for a just transition in the new green economy because it’s a national concern for all our communities. These negotiations will set the future of the auto industry for decades to come, so we have to get it right. This is when real friends show up. Our members are thankful for the partnership we have with these senators.”

A copy of the letter is below and a full list of the signatories can be found HERE.


Dear Ms. Barra, Mr. Farley, Mr. Tavares, Mr. Eun, Dr. Rhee, and Mr. Chun:

As you engage in contract negotiations with the United Auto Workers (UAW), we urge you to negotiate in good faith to reach a fair outcome by agreeing to fold workers at all joint venture electric vehicle battery facilities into the national UAW contract. UAW workers have made General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Stellantis the successful, innovative, and profitable companies they are today, and workers in the new electric vehicle sector will be critical to your future success. They must share in the benefits of a union contract.

Through the passage of the historic Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the United States Congress made it clear that electric vehicle production, as well as its contributing supply chain, is a national priority industry. We were proud to support the legislation that made major investments in this American clean energy industry possible – we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to address the disrupting impact of climate change on American families, as well as ensure that the technologies of the future are designed and produced here in the United States by American workers with union contracts. We can and must do both.

Though we can all agree that investments in electric vehicle production are necessary to outpace foreign competition, these investments are not a blank check on worker conditions. Department of Energy loans made possible by the IRA require the companies to create “good-paying jobs with strong labor standards…throughout the life of the loan.”

In other words, high-tech electric vehicle manufacturing jobs should set the standard for wages and benefits for all American manufacturing jobs. These are highly skilled, technical, and strenuous jobs. To that end, it is unacceptable and a national disgrace that the starting wage at any current American joint venture electric vehicle battery facility is $16 an hour. We note that at $33,320 a year, the starting wage at one of these facilities is just above the poverty level for a family of four. American workers, especially those working full time in 21st century state-of-the-art manufacturing, should not make poverty level wages.

The starting wage at these electric vehicle facilities is particularly egregious in the face of the billions of dollars of profits GM, Stellantis, and Ford have made in the past 10 years. Between 2013 and 2022, General Motors and Ford Motor Company made over $100 billion and $75 billion in profit in North America, respectively. Stellantis announced almost $18 billion in profits in 2022 alone. This should, in theory, be great news. It is a testament to our economic resilience that profits are now well above pre-pandemic levels. But despite these impressive figures, General Motors and Stellantis have both announced plans to restart billion-dollar stock buyback programs rather than invest in their workers. In fact, in that same profitable 10-year period, GM, Ford and Stellantis have all closed or “idled” productive plants across the country, including the General Motors Lordstown Facility in Ohio and the Stellantis Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois. These closures should never have happened in the first place.

Profits should translate to gains for workers. It is unacceptable that in the midst of extreme financial gains for the companies, executives, and investors, the workers making the electric vehicle batteries that will enable a transition to clean energy vehicles are making poverty-level wages. Before the expiration of UAW’s contract, we urge you to announce that all electric vehicle workers at these joint ventures will be folded into the national UAW contract.

This morning, Stellantis reported record profits for the first half of 2023, posting $12.1 billion (10.9 billion euros) in net profit. That’s a 37 percent increase over last year.

Only 33 percent of Stellantis’ global workforce is in North America, yet workers here made the bulk of the automaker’s operating income: 57 percent of the automaker’s $15.7 billion (14.1 billion euros) in operating income was made in North America.

The 150,000 UAW members at Stellantis, Ford and General Motors began negotiations for a new contract with the three automakers this month. Altogether, the Big Three companies made a quarter-trillion dollars in North American profits over the last decade. The automakers’ current contract with the UAW expires on Sept. 14.

UAW President Shawn Fain made the following statement today:

“There are healthy profits and then there are obscene profits. These record profits are obscene, and they come off the backs of underpaid workers and broken communities. Our workers got raises of just 6 percent over the last four years even as CEO Tavares saw his compensation soar 72 percent. As Stellantis made its megaprofits, it kept our assembly plant in Belvidere, Illinois sitting idle. Workers who’ve given their lives to the company have no idea what the future holds.

“Stellantis said today that they’re pouring a staggering $1.7 billion (1.5 billion euros) into a stock buyback scheme that artificially inflates the value of shares, further enriching company executives and the top 1%. That is $1.7 billion being robbed from the workers who made those profits possible and the latest in a long line of examples of how corporate greed is plundering our communities. It’s time for Stellantis to pony up and make things right for working families.”

UAW Vice President Rich Boyer, director of the union’s Stellantis department, issued the following statement:

“Stellantis counted its huge profit in euros, but it’s our workers in North America who made most of that money. Our workers are the profit engine for the company, but we’ve been getting the shaft for years. Even when plants like Belvidere make high-quality product and solid profits, Stellantis executives shut them down. These numbers show there’s no excuse for that kind of cruelty anymore. Our workers are fired up and we’re going to win what we and our communities deserve.”

Our UAW-Stellantis National Negotiators officially opened bargaining with the company on Thursday, July 13. But the tone for these negotiations was set the day before when our bargaining team and the union’s top officers headed to the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (SHAP) to meet directly with rank-and-file members.

Instead of kicking off bargaining with a dog and pony show shaking hands with CEOs, we put the member first. UAW President Shawn Fain, Secretary-Treasurer Margaret Mock, Vice President and UAW-Stellantis Department Director Rich Boyer, and Region 1 Director LaShawn English shook hands with members during shift change at SHAP.

We have big demands in this year’s negotiations and we’re mobilizing members to win them. We’re holding contract action workshops at locals across the country so we’re ready when our contract expires on Sept. 14. Sign up here to get these bargaining updates and to find out how you can take action for a strong contract.

I’ve been an employee of this company for 29 years. My roots in this company run back to my Grandpa Fain hiring in at Chrysler back in 1937, the year the UAW first organized Chrysler.

Throughout my 29 years, during the best and worst of times, our members have always delivered.

Throughout my 29 years with this company, we’ve been called Chrysler, Daimler Chrysler, Cerberus, FCA and now Stellantis. Our members have endured being spun off and sold out repeatedly, but they’ve always delivered.

From 2003 forward, this company has closed plants under every agreement.

In 2003, under the guise of helping the company be more competitive, it was agreed by both parties for several plants to either be closed or sold.

In 2009, our members were told they had to be like foreign transplants, and another five plants were put on the chopping block. That was on top of our members, both active and retired, making massive sacrifices to keep this company afloat.

In 2015, more plants were spun off or idled.

Since the 2019 agreement was ratified, we’ve witnessed Belvidere Assembly being idled, METD being idled, Marysville Axle being spun off, Trenton North plant being idled, Toledo machining continuing a downward spiral with no commitment of work, and salary bargaining unit jobs being continually attacked.

We’ve seen tradespeople of 37 years be forced to work production as the lowest seniority person, on the worst production jobs, as a reward for their years of service. As a result, many of them were forced to retire.

Our members worked as essential workers through a pandemic. Some lost their lives to COVID-19, while many at corporate headquarters, three years later, are still working from home.

Our workers who have been working six to seven days a week have been denied use of PAA days.

We’ve seen this company choose to form a joint venture with Samsung to build batteries right in the backyard of all the Kokomo powertrain plants, with no commitment to our members or our master agreement terms.

Then, to top it all off, we are witnessing this company play games with our members’ lives by forcing multiple plants to critical status.

For over 20 years, our members have sacrificed repeatedly, and it is unacceptable that this company has taken many of these actions during the greatest economic expansion and most profitable years in the history of the Big Three.

Our members have busted their asses to deliver quality products to the consumer while their conditions have regressed, and their bodies endure wear and tear due to working seven-day schedules.

The hard work of our members has generated record profits for this company and the payoff is to continue to tell the workers their job security means nothing to this corporation, and we need them to give more in the name of competition.

We are constantly presented with the same tired script from the companies; that we must remain competitive, which is nothing more than a continued race to the bottom in a quest to follow the lowest bidder to pay poverty wages.

Today and during bargaining, we are going to hear about how we need to “work together,” and “find solutions to take on the competition.” Talk is cheap. Just as with safety audits or former WCM audits, if you’re going to have success, you have to live the culture year-round, not just for two weeks before an audit to look good for ratings. Bargaining is no different. You can’t preach teamwork and “working together to find solutions” while, for the past several years, “working together” has been a non-existent, one-way street.

Stellantis Chief Operating Officer Mark Stewart stated how many people can’t afford our vehicles. Well, many of your workers can’t afford to buy what they build.

Mr. Stewart stated they want employees to be excited. How do you get employee excitement or loyalty? You pay a livable wage, with benefits that give them a secure retirement.

The bargaining committee, Vice President Boyer, and I will be presenting economic demands as we progress, so we’ll see how excited you want your workers to be.

As President of our union, I’m here to tell you, this is a new day for our members, and we are going in a new direction. Our members, both active and retired, have sacrificed more than their share and it’s time this company rewards their sacrifice with economic Justice.

We will not stand for the continued lack of respect for our jobs and our future.

How this round of bargaining goes will hinge on whether this company is going to treat the workers with the dignity that is long overdue.

We do not expect the traditional path of opening bargaining and spending a month and a half talking our demands to death.

September 14th is a deadline, not a reference point, so it is in the best interest for this corporation to get down to business with our bargaining committee and get to work to resolve the demands of the membership.

I want to close by saying I find a pathetic irony in the fact that we were late in getting started today because the head of Stellantis North America. Mr. Stewart was late for our 10 o’clock start time. And Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares wants to constantly talk about absenteeism when it comes to our workers, yet Mr. Tavares can’t find the time to attend the beginning of the most critical set of bargaining in this company and our workers’ history.

It’s time to get to work. We have 63 days, and the clock is ticking.

Thank you.

In 100 days, contracts expire for 150,000 autoworkers at Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. UAW members are gearing up to win big for working class communities across the country.

This contract fight will be the UAW’s defining moment as the auto industry transitions to electric vehicles. We’re setting a new standard, and members are united in the fight for our core demands:

  • Ending wage and benefit tiers that divide workers
  • Bringing back cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA)
  • Job security when companies are making record profits
  • Building a sustainable future for workers who build electric vehicles

The Big Three have made a quarter of a trillion dollars in North American profits in the past 10 years, while autoworkers still endure Great Recession-era wages and benefits. UAW autoworkers saved the auto industry 15 years ago and were never made whole.

It’s time for the Big Three to make it right.

We need your help to make sure they do.

Can we count on you?

WATCH: UAW members are back in the fight! https://youtu.be/r71X1Mee7nY

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