Tag Archive for: Stand Up Strike

Today, 33 U.S. Senators are calling on 13 non-union auto companies to refrain from union-busting as over 150,000 autoworkers have launched campaigns to organize with the UAW. In a letter sent to the CEOs of the automakers, the Senators, led by Senators Peters, Stabenow, Padilla, Butler, and Brown stressed the importance of respecting workers’ right to form a union, and encouraged the companies to commit to neutrality in any organizing effort.

“Your commitment to neutrality would ensure that management does not pressure workers into voting against unionization or delaying the election process,” the Senators’ letter states. “We believe a neutrality agreement is the bare minimum standard manufacturers should meet in respecting workers’ rights, especially as companies receive and benefit from federal funds related to the electric vehicle transition.”

The letter also addresses reports of illegal actions taken by a number of the companies. In recent weeks, the UAW has filed unfair labor practice charges at the National Labor Relations Board against Honda, Hyundai, and Volkswagen for engaging in various illegal union-busting tactics in an attempt to intimidate and dissuade workers from voting to unionize.

“These retaliatory actions are hostile to workers’ rights and must not be repeated if further organizing efforts are made by these companies’ workers,” the letter continues. “We therefore urge you all to commit to implementation of a neutrality agreement at your manufacturing plants.”

“Every autoworker in this country deserves their fair share of the auto industry’s record profits, whether at the Big Three or the Non-Union Thirteen,” UAW President Shawn Fain said. “We applaud these U.S. Senators for standing with workers who are standing up for economic justice on the job. It’s time for the auto companies to stop breaking the law and take their boot off the neck of the American autoworker, whether they’re at Volkswagen, Toyota, Tesla, or any other corporation doing business in this country.”

The campaign comes on the heels of the UAW winning record contracts at Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis in October 2023, after the six-week Stand Up Strike that captivated the labor movement and led non-union automakers to raise wages in anticipation of fending off potential organizing at their facilities.

More information on the organizing drive can be found at UAW.org/join.

When most of us think about organizing, we often think of going into non-union shops and organizing workers to join the UAW. While that is true, it can also mean organizing our existing union members, and getting them active in our collective fight. For Big Three workers and members of Local 230 going into bargaining this year, we knew that we needed a significant wage increase, a cost-of-living allowance (COLA), the end to an abusive tiered wage system, and the end of the abusive system that kept supplemental employees (temporary workers) working on a temporary status with no real rights and no hire date in sight.

Our contract campaign was huge in the months and weeks leading up to the strike. At the national level, UAW President Shawn Fain & his team were great at keeping members up to date through Facebook Live and news outlets. At the local level, we were hard at work building unity and coordination. Some of the ways we showed solidarity included what we called a Red-Out – wearing only red shirts in solidarity. Another way was organizing members to not work any voluntary overtime in the days leading up to Local 230 being called on to walk off the job. Both of these methods showed management that we were no longer divided and that we weren’t going down without a fight.

On September 15 at 12:00 am, the Big Three walked off the job. The following week, all the PDCs across Stellantis and GM were called to walk off their jobs, and thus, Local 230 was out on strike, along with Locals 6645, 2162, and 492. Our Local 230 President Jesse Ramirez walked out side by side with approximately 55 first shift Local 230 members. Our message was clear: “No deals, No wheels.”

In the following weeks, we organized rallies on the picket lines. These rallies were key for keeping members’ morale up, building a strong sense of camaraderie, and relieving the stress of the strike. In addition to social media and local news coverage, the rallies were extremely sharp tools used to gain public support and to keep our fight and demands as pervasive as possible. Many supporters came out and walked the line, including Teamsters, SAG-AFTRA, Carpenters Union, Machinist Union, as well as State Senators, Assembly Members, and members of the United States Congress.

Our efforts would soon pay off: On October 28th the strike was declared over, and members returned to work the following Monday. The contract was ratified on November 20th, 2023. Workers emerged victorious knowing we, the UAW, had won.

Joel Benefield is a member of UAW Local 230 in Ontario, CA. The local represents workers at the Stellantis Parts Distribution Center in Los Angeles.