Entering contract talks with Detroit’s three automakers, Shawn Fain set lofty expectations for what he could gain for his union members — and delivered on many of them. He secured significant pay raises, improved benefits, the right to strike over plant closures and a raft of other concessions.
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.