Amidst ongoing strikes from the United Auto Workers (UAW) union against Ford, General Motors (GM) and Stellantis, some wonder if other automakers such as Tesla, Volkswagen, Honda or Toyota could be next.
UAW strikes entered their third week on Friday, just as the union expanded the strikes a second time to include walkouts at additional Ford and GM plants. Although some onlookers have predicted that the strikes could significantly benefit Tesla, widening the gap between the “Big Three” and the automaker’s electric vehicle (EV) dominance, others aren’t convinced.
Barclays analyst Dan Levy recently noted that the strikes are likely to drive wages up at Tesla. Others point out that the UAW could also attempt to unionize the EV maker after successfully coming to an agreement, as Business Insider reports. The publication posits that a contract win may add credibility to the UAW’s demands, which could allow it to successfully organize workers at Tesla and other automakers.
Foreign manufacturers with U.S. operations could also face unionization efforts, including Volkswagen, Honda and Toyota. Not unlike Tesla, these companies may also face substantial wage increases if UAW workers successfully see pay increases as a result of the strikes.
To be sure, unionizing at Tesla wouldn’t be easy, and CEO Elon Musk has had a history of criticizing unions, previously claiming that the UAW was embezzling money from its workers. Musk has also invited the UAW to hold a union vote in the past, though the organization hasn’t taken the CEO up on the offer.
One UAW official told The New York Times last month that a few Tesla employees were already early on in plans to form a union, though unionization efforts at the automaker’s many U.S. plants have failed before.
Tesla is currently the only major U.S. automaker not represented by the UAW, and the company was founded roughly 70 years after the union first began organizing the Big Three. The current strikes also come amidst huge labor movements taking place this summer in industries beyond automobiles, including the widely publicized writer’s and actor’s strikes in Hollywood.
The UAW is demanding wage increases of 40 percent over a four-year period, though the Big Three automakers have offered pay raises of around 20 percent in the same timeframe. Other UAW demands include shifting to a 32-hour workweek, eliminating tiered wage systems, restoring pensions and cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA), as well as improvements to other benefits such as vacation, retirement and family leave.
Over the weekend, GM CEO Mary Barra urged the UAW to bargain a deal as soon as possible, while Ford CEO Jim Farley criticized UAW President Shawn Fain for being on TV a lot lately. Farley has also criticized the UAW’s demands directly, saying last month that they would effectively bankrupt Ford if enacted. The claim was echoed by Musk, who said that a 40-percent wage increase and a switch to 32-hour workweeks could put all three automakers out of business.