Shaun Fain, UAW President, is not only taking a victory lap around the recent contract settlements with the Detroit Three, but he has also repeatedly vowed to organize the other non-union auto manufacturers and their suppliers so that in 2028 he will be bargaining against the Big Five or Six.
UAW organizing will no doubt be enhanced toward non-union auto suppliers down the other supplier tiers.
This new organizing movement will catch some companies unprepared to respond to any organizing attempts having been in an environment for years where union organizing has not been a real threat.
Non-union companies currently face two big weaknesses in their efforts to stay union free. Their supervisors and managers do not have experience or knowledge about how to recognize or even counter union organizing and secondly non-union companies’ management and human resources have not had to be knowledgeable about the sometimes arcane rules that must be followed as administered and enforced by today’s very pro-labor National Labor Relations Board government agency.
In case you have not been watching, in 2023 unions have been winning between 80 – 90% of the certification elections their workers have requested elections on.
Last week, as reported in SupplyChainBrain, the UAW initiated union organizing drives at Honda and Subaru. The UAW posted links to a social media site that provides online electronic forms that workers will fill out online to indicate their support for UAW representation. 30% is all that is needed for the UAW to petition the National Labor Relations Board for a certification election, though the union will hold out for a lot more potential votes before they pull that trigger and demand recognition with the employer. When the union requests recognition by the employer, the employer then has just two weeks to apply for a recognition election with the NLRB.
This union election petition also raises the NLRA compliance bar and makes it harder for management to avoid unintentionally committing an unfair labor practice that the UAW can use against them in both the media and at the NLRB. Further, in a recent NLRB decision, that pro-labor agency now has the power to call pretty much any unfair labor practice committed by the employer so egregious that the NLRB can then demand the employer recognize the union without an election by the workers.
These non-union auto manufacturers are not sitting around waiting for this to happen. Almost immediately after the Detroit Three tentative agreement was set, the non-union auto manufacturer Hyundai reported it would increase wages upwards of 25% over the next four years. Toyota plans to increase wages 10%, and Honda stated it was increasing wages 11%.
The success of the recent Detroit Three contract achieving huge raises and concessions will now be used by Shaun Fain and his UAW organizers to prove they can get workers in non-union plants the same if they join the union.
"The UAW is back to setting the standard," Fain said. "Now, we take our strike muscle and our fighting spirit to the rest of the industries we represent, and to millions of non-union workers ready to Stand Up and fight for a better way of life.” Employers will have to understand why their pay is set as it is and get comfortable responding to its employee’s questions about pay. Otherwise, Fain will try to corner employers with cries about “fair share” and employers’ exploitation of the working class.
This will also be the organizing cry of other unions as well.
And don’t forget a largely sympathetic media. A recent CNN article recently opined, “But despite the UAW’s ambitious organizing goals, U.S. labor law is still stacked against union efforts to win the right to represent additional work places. And that is true even in cases where unions find widespread success, such as the union organizing drive at Starbucks.” This pro-labor opinion comes despite President Biden’s position that he is the most labor-friendly president ever and a government agency (NLRB) that is regularly changing the rules of organizing and labor compliance in favor of organized labor and unionization.
Non-union employers are advised to review their current employment culture, their supervisor and management training, and worker pay and benefits to ensure they remain a best-in-class employer. Employers will need to work very hard to make sure the organizing “oxygen is kept out of the union’s room” so to speak.
How ASE Can Help
ASE has many of the tools non-union employers need to get their workplace up to speed and ahead of the union organizing wave that is coming.
Get your supervisors trained on how to better interact with their subordinates in our Principles and Practices of Supervision classes. Train your supervisors, managers, and HR personnel on National Labor Relations Act compliance. ASE not only offers a National Labor Relations Act Overview class but also provides union-free training in its Union Avoidance Recognizing and Handling Unionization Attempt class.
Employee Engagement/ Positive Employer-Employee Relations
Get a read on your current employee relations environment through ASE’s Employee Engagement tools and make sure your pay and benefits are competitive.
Competitive Pay Data
ASE collects production, semi-skilled, and skilled wages and benefit data to keep our members competitive in the labor market. Visit the ASE survey library to learn more and access survey data.
For more information on the above resources and services contact ASE at (248) 353-4500.
SupplyChainBrain. UAW Pushes for Workers at Honda, Subaru to Join Union. (11/13/2023).
Savanah Morning News. Hyundai to Raise Wages 25% for U.S. Workers, Will Apply at Bryan County Plant (11/14/2023)
CNN.Unions are the Strongest in Decades. Nearly a Million Americans got Double Digit Raises as a Result. (11/21/2023