The United Automobile Workers union on Monday accused three foreign automakers of unfair labor practices, saying they had interfered with employees’ efforts to build support for the union at U.S. plants.
The union said it had filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that automakers (Honda, Hyundai and Volkswagen) had tried to prevent workers from discussing UAW representation on the job and that the companies had discriminated against those who they had done it.
The action came two weeks after the UAW announced an effort to organize non-union plants owned by 10 foreign-owned companies, along with domestic manufacturers Tesla, Lucid and Rivian, which make electric vehicles. The union has tried unsuccessfully to unionize some of those companies’ factories in recent years, but not simultaneously on such a broad scale.
The UAW said Monday that hundreds of workers at the Honda plant in Greensburg, Indiana, and the Hyundai plant in Montgomery, Alabama, and more than 1,000 workers at a Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, had signed cards. expressing support for joining the Union.
At Honda, the union said, workers “report being persecuted and surveilled by management for pro-union activities,” while at Hyundai, “management has illegally confiscated, destroyed and banned pro-union materials in non-work areas during non-working hours.” ”.
He said Volkswagen “had harassed and threatened workers for speaking out about the union” and had “confiscated and destroyed pro-union materials in the break room,” among other accusations.
In a statement, Volkswagen said it took such allegations seriously and would investigate the matter. “Volkswagen respects our workers’ right to determine who should represent their interests in the workplace,” he said.
Honda said: “We have not and will not interfere with the right of our associates to participate in activities that support or oppose the UAW.” Hyundai said the union’s description of the matter was not accurate and that its workers “can choose to join a union or not as is their legal right.”
Shawn Fain, the president of the UAW, attacked the three companies in a statement issued by the union. “These companies are breaking the law in an attempt to get auto workers to sit down and shut up instead of fighting for their fair share,” he said. “But these workers are showing management that they will not be intimidated by their right to speak out and organize for a better life.”
The UAW is trying to organize foreign-owned plants after a six-week strike wave against the three Detroit automakers (Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, which makes Jeep, Chrysler and other brands) that resulted in contracts that awarded record salary increases and additional benefits. profit gains.
In addition to Honda, Hyundai and Volkswagen, the foreign companies the UAW said last week it was targeting include Toyota, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Mazda and Volvo.
The new contracts at Ford, GM and Stellantis raise the maximum hourly wage to $40 at the end of the four-and-a-half-year period, from $32 previously. Hourly wages at foreign automakers in the United States generally range from 10 to 20 years.
After UAW agreements were reached with Detroit automakers this fall, Honda said it would provide 11 percent raises next year, and Hyundai said it would raise wages by 14 percent next year and 25 percent next year. percent by 2028. Toyota also announced increases.
Santul Nerkar contributed reports.