UAW recordsdata labor follow costs in opposition to Hyundai, Honda, VW

United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain during an online broadcast updating union members on negotiations with the Detroit automakers on Oct. 6, 2023.

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DETROIT — The United Auto Workers has filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against Honda Motor, Hyundai Motor and Volkswagen, accusing the automakers of unlawfully interfering with worker organizing, the union said Monday.

UAW alleges management at three facilities — for Honda in Greensburg, Indiana; Hyundai in Montgomery, Alabama; and Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tennessee — have participated in illegal “union-busting as workers organize to join the UAW.”

Hyundai and Honda refuted the allegations. Volkswagen said it takes such “claims like this very seriously and will investigate accordingly.”

The union alleges the activities range from surveillance of workers at Honda to confiscating, destroying, and prohibiting “pro-union materials in non-work areas during non-work times” at Hyundai.

At VW, the UAW alleges management has “harassed and threatened workers for talking about the union; confiscated and destroyed pro-union materials in the break room; attempted to intimidate and illegally silence pro-union workers; and has attempted to illegally prohibit workers from distributing union literature and discussing union issues in non-work areas on non-work time.”

“These companies are breaking the law in an attempt to get autoworkers to sit down and shut up instead of fighting for their fair share,” UAW President Shawn Fain said in a statement. “But these workers are showing management that they won’t be intimidated out of their right to speak up and organize for a better life.”

Spokespeople for Honda and Hyundai disputed the union’s claims, while citing it’s up to workers on whether to join a union.

“The union’s characterization of events in its press statement do not present an accurate picture, and we look forward to having a fair opportunity to present the facts through our participation in the legal process,” Hyundai said in a statement.

“Honda encourages our associates to engage and get information on this issue.  We have not and would not interfere with our associates’ right to engage in activity supporting or opposing the UAW,” a company spokesman said in an email.

The filings were not immediately available on the NLRB’s website, but the union provided them to CNBC.

The actions that prompted the allegations against the employers occurred during the last six months, according to the filings, which were signed by UAW outside counsel Benjamin Dictor, an attorney with New York-based Eisner Dictor & Lamadrid.

The charges come roughly two weeks after the UAW said it was launching an unprecedented campaign to organize 13 nonunion automakers in the U.S. after it secured record contracts with the three Detroit automakers — General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis.

During an online broadcast Monday night, Fain detailed additional measures of the organizing campaigns, including a “30-50-70 strategy,” referring to voting percentages in support or union organizing.

Fain said when organizing committees can get 30% of plant workers to sign UAW cards in support of representation, then they are ready to go public with their campaign; at 50%, Fain will visit the location for a rally; and, at 70%, the UAW will demand the company recognize the union or take it to a vote.

UAW membership has been nearly cut in half since 2001, from about 700,000 that year to 383,000 at the beginning of 2023. It peaked at 1.5 million in 1979.

Fain has vowed to move beyond the “Big Three” and expand to the “Big Five or Big Six” by the time its four-and-a-half-year contracts with the Detroit automakers expire in April 2028.

Like with the union’s negotiations with the Detroit automakers and the union’s “Stand Up Strike,” Fain said no single company is the target for the UAW.

“They’re all the target,” he said.

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