Advocates pressure Big Three to give UAW workers a fair contract and a just transition toward an EV future
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Environmental, advocacy, consumer, and civil society groups, including Public Citizen, Labor Network for Sustainability, Greenpeace USA, Jobs with Justice, Sunrise Movement, Democratic Socialists of America, 350.org, Working Families Party, Evergreen Action, and Green New Deal Network, today announced plans for a national day of action on October 7, aimed at supporting striking auto workers and urging the Big Three automakers—Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis—to meet the demands of 150,000 members of the United Auto Workers (UAW).
Participating groups will rally their supporters to advocate alongside UAW members for a fair contract that protects worker rights and prioritizes workers in the United States as the vehicle fleet transitions towards electric vehicles.
“The transition to EVs must not be a race to the bottom that exacerbates harm to workers and communities,” said Erika Thi Patterson, auto supply chain campaign director for Public Citizen’s Climate Program. “We need a just transition to EVs that protects our planet and people. That’s why 130+ groups representing millions of people are ready to partner with UAW in a national day of action to stand with auto workers. The implications of this strike could drastically raise standards across the auto industry and broader supply chain.”
The national day of action, planned for October 7, 2023, will mobilize members and grassroots activists to attend active picket lines where UAW members are on strike, and to join the UAW’s nationwide “community canvass,” where advocates will offer the public informational leaflets about why they support the auto workers in front of Big Three auto dealerships.
“Now is a decisive moment in whether the Green New Deal’s promise of creating millions of good-paying, union jobs will be fulfilled–or not.” said Sydney Ghazarian, a Labor Network for Sustainability organizer who has been coordinating UAW solidarity work. “UAW’s fight for an economically and socially just EV transition is our fight too.”
“We commend UAW auto workers for bravely confronting the corporate greed of the ‘Big Three’ automakers by demanding that ‘record profits must mean record contracts’ for workers,” said Ben Smith, senior campaigner for Greenpeace USA. “Greenpeace USA is mobilizing — from our ships, to the picket lines and beyond – shoulder to shoulder with UAW members, because we believe the manufacturing of electric vehicles must deliver on the promise of safe, dependable, good paying UNION jobs across the entire supply chain.”
“The Big 3 automakers have tried to grind workers down and get away with polluting our communities for decades, and we’re proud to stand with striking UAW workers in saying enough is enough,” said Saul Levin, Legislative and Political Director at the Green New Deal Network. “The fight for living wages, benefits, and standards that auto workers and allies have fought for generations is our fight too. Union jobs with excellent working conditions are a cornerstone of the Green New Deal that we need now. We’re jazzed to mobilize alongside friends in the climate movement on October 7th to show automakers and other huge corporations that we have the backs of striking UAW workers until they win a fair contract and beyond. All workers deserve to recoup the profits they create.”
Over 130 organizations signed an open letter to the CEOs of the Big Three last week, urging them to accept the UAW’s contract demands. The letter, convened by the Labor Network for Sustainability, includes signatories such as Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace USA, Sunrise Movement, 350.org, and Mighty Earth.
The letter asserts that the transition cannot be a “race to the bottom” that further exploits workers and that the Big Three meeting UAW’s demands is crucial to ensuring a just transition to EVs. Its demands include:
- an end to the unjust tier system for workers;
- just wage and benefit increases that keep in line with the cost of living and provide a good life for workers and their communities;
- the same pay and safety standards for workers in sustainable battery production as under the National Agreements; and
- a robust, fair and just transition into the EV economy with no loss of autoworker livelihood.
Since September 15, more than 20,000 UAW members have taken part in a strike at 41 auto plants across 20 states operated by the Big Three. Negotiations to end the strike are ongoing after the companies dragged their feet during pre-strike negotiations, letting the contract expire. Each successive Friday, the UAW has announced plans to expand the strike to more strategic locations.
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