December 3, 2023

Technically, tens of thousands of employees of Toyota in Kentucky Me, Mercedes-Benz in Alabama, and Tesla in Texas do not participate in the high-stakes labor-management negotiations that are taking place in and around Detroit.

They are present.

Ford Motors, General Motors, and Stellantis (parent of Chrysler) executives have cited nonunion automakers – many of whom are in the South – as a threat to their competitiveness, making it impossible to meet the demands of striking workers for large raises, generous benefits, and better working conditions.

Bill Ford, Ford Motor’s executive chairman, told reporters in Michigan that “Toyota and Honda, Tesla, and others are enjoying this strike, because they know that the longer it continues, the better for them.” “They will win and we will all lose.”

United Automobile Workers sees these statements as an attempt by employers to manipulate workers. The union considers the strike, now in its sixth week, not just as a step towards better pay but also for U.A.W. It plans to hire nonunion workers in addition to its members.

Shawn Fain was the U.A.W. President Fain, in reaction to Ford’s remarks, stated on Friday. He also said, “Nonunion autoworkers do not represent the enemy.” They are the future of our union family.”

Shawn Fain th, the president of U.A.W. president, considers nonunion workers potential future union members. Credit…Brittany Greeson for The New York Times

Long have unionized and non-unionized factories have been at odds over the pay gap. Some industry executives claim that the high union wages are a major reason why G.M. After the 2008 financial crisis, G.M.

Progressive lawmakers and union leaders have claimed that nonunion manufacturing has contributed to the erosion of the middle class in recent decades, mainly in the South but also in the Midwest and West.

Autoworkers who have been in unions for a long time tend to earn more than non-unionized production workers. They have a greater say in their schedules, overtime, and work.

Ford, G.M. The starting pay at Ford, G.M. Nonunion workers in Southern auto plants are paid more because their cost of living is lower.

The geographic division between unionized and non-unionized plants is not always as distinct as it might seem. Toyota and Honda both have plants in the South, where unions tend to be weaker, but also in Ohio and Indiana, where they have stronger marriages. G.M. Ford and G.M.

The debate about auto industry wages has become more urgent as automakers invest billions in factories that make batteries for electric vehicles. The majority of these factories are located in Southern states like Georgia and Tennessee, where local laws make organizing a factory more difficult.

A good agreement with Detroit Three would be powerful because it would give union organizers stronger arguments to join the union,” said Ian Greer. He is a Cornell researcher who studies the effects of electric vehicles on the labor market.

Schataan Lyke, a Ford Motor worker in Chicago, said she was glad to have the union supporting her. Credit…Michelle Litvin for The New York Times

Schataan Lyke admitted that she was not able to live comfortably despite earning a union salary of nearly $32 per hour for her work assembling chassis in a Ford plant in Chicago. She is the only breadwinner of three children, and she worries about her ability to pay for a prom gown for her oldest.

Ms. Lyke said that she is glad to have her union on her side. She said, “You have someone outside fighting for your interests.”

Ms. Lyke is better off than those doing similar jobs in the South. Morris Mock, 49, makes $1 less per hour than Ms. Lyke at a Nissan plant in Canton (Miss.) despite having more than 20 years of experience.

Nissan’s 2017 attempt to unionize workers failed to gain enough support. This means that Mr. Mock, who was one of those leading the union drive, won’t directly benefit from the contract the U.A.W. The U.A.W. negotiates with automakers. He said that he was happy the union was fighting for wages to be protected as the industry moved to electric vehicles.

Mock stated that the market was about to change. “I am glad they realize that workers must come first.”

Government statistics show wide regional differences in pay. According to a Census Bureau study, Michigan autoworkers earn 22 percent more per year than production workers in Tennessee. They also make 23 percent more per year than South Carolina workers. These figures include those who work as suppliers, whose pay is usually lower than that of factories that assemble cars.

According to some labor experts, the biggest difference between nonunion and union autoworkers is not the pay but rather things like overtime requirements and shift scheduling. The union workers have more influence in these matters.

The auto industry has been moving south for decades due to lower costs, weaker unions, and local government incentives. When foreign automakers set up factories in America, they often choose sites in the South. Mercedes, Hyundai, Toyota, and Volkswagen all have plants in South Carolina. BMW and Volvo Cars are in Alabama.

Most foreign automakers don’t disclose how much they pay their employees. Volkswagen is an exception. It said that the starting wage for hourly production employees at its Chattanooga factory, Tenn., was $21.10. The company reported that veteran workers earn over $29 per hour.

Some foreign automakers based in the South pay their U.S. employees more than Ford, G.M. Stellantis, and EY, according to an EY study for Autos Drive America. This industry association represents Nissan, Toyota, and Mercedes, among others.

According to the survey, the average starting wage at foreign automobile manufacturers is $19 per hour. This is higher than the U.A.W. members’ starting wage of $17. members. The average pay for foreign automakers is $28, while the U.A.W. pays $32. Members under the current contract.

Nissan’s spokesman refused to reveal how much it pays its U.S. employees but said that the average is higher than the Autos Drive America study.

Tesla, based in Texas, has factories in Texas, Buffalo, Fremont, Calif., and Sparks, Nev., and does not reveal what it pays to its employees, but Detroit automakers claim it’s less than they produce.

Ford’s labor costs, including bonuses and benefits, are 40 percent higher than Tesla’s. This figure does not include the stock awards received by at least some Tesla workers. Tesla’s job ads for production associates pay between $20 and $23 per hour.

Even though autoworker wages in Alabama and Mississippi are lower than in Michigan or Illinois, they are often higher than the wages paid by employers in other industries in these places.

Labor representatives claim that working conditions are more important than wages.

Emily Erickson of the University of Warwick, England, and Berneece Hert of Jackson State University surveyed 211 employees at Mercedes’s Vance, Ala. factory near Tuscaloosa.

Mercedes workers earned an average of $27 per hour, which is high for the area. They said that they were often forced to work overtime or even change their schedules without much notice. Nearly half of the workers worked more than fifty hours per week. The study found that White workers earned an average of $3 more per hour compared to Black workers.

Mercedes denies discrimination. Mercedes said that its pay structure was the same for all employees, regardless of their race, age, or ethnicity. Our pay progressions were based on seniority.

The study was criticized for sampling too few employees. Mercedes stated, “We do not agree with the conclusions.”

Ford, G.M. Stellantis, and Ford have agreed to new contracts with U.A.W. The union wants a 40 percent raise over four years. Ford, G.M. Ford, G.M.

Recently, unions in the South have made progress. Workers at Blue Bird in Georgia who make school buses voted in May to join the United Steelworkers and are currently negotiating a new contract. Workers at Z.F. in Alabama who make axles for Mercedes ended their month-long strike last Monday after the German company agreed that the highest hourly rate would be raised to $23.

Workers at Toyota, Volkswagen, and Hyundai have expressed an interest in unionizing. Workers at Volkswagen did not vote to join the union last year, but this could change.

These workers will say: “Look what U.A.W. “These workers will say, ‘Look what the U.A.W. The Southeast is included in Region 8.

He said, “Organizers are on the ground right now.” “We are starting to move.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *