UAW President Shawn Fain shares future union goals before U.S. Congress
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - UAW President Shawn Fain appeared before U.S. Congress Tuesday, sharing the auto union’s goals for the future, as votes on a tentative deal with General Motors continue to roll in.
Contract deals are on the horizon for all of the auto industry “big three,” but before anyone signs on the dotted line, Fain has made a public promise to bring non-union plants under union contracts.
“And when these members, these workers decide to organize and join the UAW, they’re going to recognize the full benefit of union membership,” Fain told members of Congress on Tuesday.
At a time when low wages and high inflation are causing worker tensions across all industries to climb, Michigan State University Professor of Supply Chain Management, Dr. Steven Melnyk said, Fain could be successful in that effort, as would other groups looking to unionize.
“I think we’re going to see other industries look seriously as unionization,” Melnyk said. “Unionizations have gone down. We’re going to see a pickup on it, because I think the conditions are right.”
Non-union automakers like Toyota and Hyundai have already announced wage increases of their own, in hopes of competing with wages promised in contracts between the UAW and Ford, Stellantis and General Motors. It’s a move that Fain pointed out in his testimony.
“They’re going to follow out pattern and raise wages by 25% for their employees through the year 2028,” he said. “We call that the UAW bump, and that stands for ‘you are welcome.’”
Considering the growing drive to unionize, Melnyk is anticipating that companies will take one of two approaches in response.
“We’re either going to see what Starbucks does, which is, if a store becomes unionized, they’ll shut it down and then they’ll open up another place down the road,” he said. “Or we’re going to see others which say, this is a symptom, something’s not right, what can we do to correct it.”
While some consumers have expressed concern over a potential increase in the cost of vehicles following the deals, Melnyk said people should be aware that the increase will be slight. He said if strikes by the UAW, SAG-AFTRA, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and sectors of the food service industry are any indication, the desire for better wages and benefits from workers, is not going away.
Meanwhile, UAW workers in Lansing continue casting their votes on the proposed contract between the UAW and General Motors. Results from Local 602, representing the GM Lansing-Delta Assembly Plant show an overwhelming “no” vote, by 61 percent. Although a closer race, workers nearby at Local 598 in Flint also voted “no” by 51.8 percent.
Union members from the GM Grand River Assembly Plant (Local 652) and the GM Lansing Parts Distribution Center (Local 1753) will continue voting until midnight.
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