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Biden's Message to Non-Union Workers
"Join, organize, picket, protest."
Last Thursday, More Perfect Union interviewed President Biden when he traveled to Belvidere, Illinois to celebrate the re-opening of an auto assembly plant and the creation of a new electric vehicle plant.
After decades of watching 65 auto plant closures occur, this rare re-opening is a welcome reversal of the trend and big credit goes to the UAW leadership and the Biden administration for working together to get it done.
The Belvidere facility that once employed more than 1,200 hourly workers is now set to reopen as an assembly plant in 2027, building a new midsize pickup truck. “In the meantime, it will start making batteries for electric vehicles and serve as a parts depot for the company.”
We'll be producing a long-form video of our interviews with Biden, UAW president Shawn Fain, and others in a week or two. In the meantime, we posted a quick clip in which we asked the president what his message is to non-union autoworkers at Honda, Toyota, Tesla, and other plants.
“Join, organize, picket, protest,” he told us. “You have a right to form a union, and you cannot be stopped. You cannot be intimidated.” (Watch the full response here.)
The video went viral, receiving well over a million views on Friday. More important than views, the video report had real-world impact. Within six hours of us posting the clip, UAW reported that it was being inundated with workers who had heard the president’s comment and wanted to begin organizing.
The UAW then announced a public campaign to organize Honda plants:
Then, hours ago, Hyundai became the third auto company (along with Toyota and Honda) to announce raises for workers in the wake of UAW’s gains at the Big Three. Hyundai said it will raise pay for its U.S. factory workers by 25 percent by 2028.
(Rarely do news outlets note that these three companies all run union shops at home, and also lobbied to kill a proposed U.S. tax credit for union-made EVs that Congress debated in 2021. That provision was single-handedly sunk by Sen. Joe Manchin, who announced his opposition at a non-union Toyota plant in West Virginia.)
Of course, these promised pay raises for non-union autoworkers are just that — promises. Tomorrow management could change their minds.
“That’s the difference,” UAW’s Jonah Furman tweeted. “When these workers join the UAW, they’ll have a deal in writing, backed up by the power of the strike and one of the strongest industrial unions in the country.”