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In an October 6 livestream on YouTube, United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain announced what he called a "major breakthrough" in the union's contract negotiations with General Motors, saying that the automaker has agreed in writing to place workers who make the batteries that go into electric cars under the UAW's national master agreement.
Allowing battery workers employed under joint ventures between automakers and foreign battery makers to be covered by UAW contracts had been a sticking point for the UAW in contract negotiations with GM, Ford, and Stellantis, leading the union to call a historic strike against the Big Three US automakers on September 15. The strike began with work stoppages at three initial plants, and the union is continuing to scale up worker walk-outs in order to force automakers into concessions. According to Fain, the prospect of a UAW strike at GM's Arlington, TX, facility that makes Chevrolet, GMC, and Cadillac SUVs led the automaker to capitulate on the point of battery workers.
"The plan was to draw down engine and transmission plants and permanently replace them with low-wage battery jobs," Fain said. "We had a different plan, and our plan is winning at GM, and we expect it to win at Ford and Stellantis as well."
Fain said GM had previously been falling behind in the negotiations but that it had now "leap-frogged the pack in terms of a just transition," from internal combustion engine cars to electric vehicles.
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