UAW's next move: Organizing a non-unionized automaker in the U.S.
The United Auto Workers union says it will immediately turn its attention to organizing non-unionized auto companies in the U.S., right after workers with GM, Ford and Stellantis ratify their union tentative agreements.
That's been on the union's wish list for decades - but the dramatic increases in wages and other economic issues after the recent strike could make unionizing other companies a less steep uphill climb.
Michael Hicks is an expert in U.S. manufacturing at Ball State University. He says Japanese and other foreign companies have successfully fended off unionization for a long time - witness Toyota's move this week to voluntarily raise wages as a strategy to fend off the UAW.
He suspects the union's dramatic wage wins this time could greatly increase that pressure on foreign automakers in the U.S. to boost wages.
"It's either that or they're going to have some very expensive and difficult fights to prevent unionization of their factories."
The first new target of the union might not be Toyota, Honda or Subaru, he said. It could be Tesla, an American company owned by one of the richest people in the world.
"If you're going to go after a company that you think there's a really good opportunity to showcase globally your growing power, it's not going to be Honda or Toyota," he said. "It's going to be Elon Musk's company."
Union sources say rank-and-file voting on the Ford tentative agreement has already begun; Stellantis workers will start voting soon, with GM following shortly thereafter. It's expected the final tally will be available within two weeks.