UAW on the Prowl to Organize Electric Vehicle Manufacturers

The United Auto Workers union recently won an election to represent employees at an electric car battery plant near Youngstown, Ohio. This is the first win in the electric car market for the UAW.

Conventional vehicles that run on fuel are being phased out. So, too, are the engines, transmissions, and other parts that are made by UAW members.

The union has identified about 135,000 jobs that are at risk of going away in favor of EV batteries and parts.

To stay viable, the UAW needs to organize factories making EV parts.

The workers at the newly organized electric battery factory earn about $16/hour. Half of what their counterparts make at GM’s auto assembly plants.

The UAW promised significant wage increases in exchange for a pro-union vote. It will do so at the battery plants under construction in Tennessee and Michigan, too.

These battery plants are jointly owned by the Big 3 automakers.

GM plans to build 1 million EVs in 2025. Ford wants to sell the same amount in 2026. Both automakers will need a supply of batteries to do so.

The push for electric vehicles is interesting to me. Automakers have vowed to phase out combustible engines. Yet consumers have not fully embraced electric vehicles, and the U.S. does not have the infrastructure to support widespread use of EVs.

Regardless, the UAW is trying to do something most unions don’t do well: adapt and modernize.

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Matt Austin is a nationwide management labor lawyer. Labor laws govern virtually all private-sector employees regardless of union membership. Proactive management of labor relations is critical to maintaining flexibility and increasing profit.

Matt also runs Austin Legal’s HR Legal Compliance Program that, for a small monthly fee, ensures HR decisions are protected by the attorney-client privilege.

Matt’s experience is deeply rooted in helping manage many aspects of his clients’ businesses. To effectively manage labor relations, he must also manage budgets, forecasts, new growth areas, and projected market corrections. High emotional intelligence is also critical to negotiating union contracts and to properly advise HR Legal Compliance members through the nuances of the law, its application to their companies, and how it will be received by employees.

You can reach Matt via email at