"Building a worker-led movement ain't easy but it's the most important thing we can do," said one organizer.
With the electric vehicle battery industry expected to add tens of thousands of jobs in the coming years, the United Auto Workers announced Wednesday its plan to ensure the new workers will benefit from labor protections and fair wages.
The UAW's International Executive Board voted Tuesday to commit $40 million to help support and organize nonunion autoworkers and battery workers, said the union.
The decision reflects that "organizing the unorganized and fighting for a just transition for workers in the emerging EV industry are our union's top priority!" said Chris Brooks, an adviser to UAW president Shawn Fain.
Thanks to a surge in organizing activity, including a six-week "Stand Up Strike" last fall that pushed the "Big Three" automakers to provide employees with improved pay and working conditions, said the UAW, "new standards are being set" as the battery sector begins to expand.
The union announced during the strike that EV workers would be included in its national agreement.
Jobs at electric vehicle battery facilities "will supplement, and in some cases largely replace, existing power-train jobs in the auto industry," said the union. "Through a massive new organizing effort, workers will fight to maintain and raise the standard in the emerging battery industry."
"The UAW is committing serious resources to help autoworkers organize their workplaces," said UAW organizing director Brian Shepherd. "Building a worker-led movement ain't easy but it's the most important thing we can do."
The announcement comes after green groups this week criticized the Biden administration's plans—reported by The New York Times—to relax the pace at which manufacturers must boost EV sales. The UAW delayed its endorsement of President Joe Biden over EV policy.