There’s been predictions that a transition to electric vehicles would hurt autoworkers. But this week U.S. autoworkers ended their strike after winning “significant gains in pay and benefits,” reports the Associated Press:
The United Auto Workers union overwhelmingly ratified new contracts with Ford and Stellantis, that along with a similar deal with General Motors will raise pay across the industry, force automakers to absorb higher costs and help reshape the auto business as it shifts away from gasoline-fueled vehicles…
The companies agreed to dramatically raise pay for top-scale assembly plant workers, with increases and cost-of-living adjustments that would translate into 33% wage gains. Top assembly plant workers are to receive immediate 11% raises and will earn roughly $42 an hour when the contracts expire in April of 2028. Under the agreements, the automakers also ended many of the multiple tiers of wages they had used to pay different workers.
They also agreed in principle to bring new electric-vehicle battery plants into the national union contract. This provision will give the UAW an opportunity to unionize the EV battery plants plants, which will represent a rising share of industry jobs in the years ahead.
In October the union’s president criticized what had been the original trajectory of the auto industry. “The plan was to draw down engine and transmission plants, and permanently replace them with low-wage battery jobs. We had a different plan. And our plan is winning.”
And this week the union’s president said they had not only “raised wages dramatically for over a hundred thousand workers” — and improved their retirement security. “We took a major step towards ensuring a just transition to electric vehicles.”
In Belvidere, Illinois, the union “won a commitment from Stellantis to reopen a shuttered factory and even add an EV battery plant,” the Associated Press notes.
“The new contract agreements were widely seen as a victory for the UAW,” their article adds — and perhaps even for other autoworkers. After the UAW’s president announced plans to try unionizing other plants, three foreign automakers in the U.S. — Honda, Toyota and Hyundai — “quickly responded to the UAW contract by raising wages for their factory workers.”