UAW Scores Victory in Tech Industry

New deal gives union momentum for Tesla organizing efforts.

by on Feb.20, 2018

UAW President Dennis Williams touted the new deal with Bon Appetit in California, hoping to gain favor with workers at Tesla.

The United Auto Workers scored a small victory in its fight to recruit new members in the San Francisco Bay Area as continues to prepare for a battle with one of the region’s iconic companies, Tesla.

Earlier this month, nearly 150 Bon Appétit Management Company food service employees working at Airbnb Inc. ratified a first-time union contract with the UAW. The agreement covers food service employees working at four Airbnb locations in headquarters in San Francisco, as well as three other Airbnb sites in California and Oregon.

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“The contract raises the bar for working people up and down the West Coast,” said Gary Jones, the Western Regional Director for the UAW, who has been tapped to become the union’s next president at the UAW’s constitutional convention in June. 

The workers overwhelmingly chose the UAW as their bargaining representative, joining some 29,000 retired and active members in California and more than 1 million retired and active members nationally. Contract negotiations took place from late 2017 through January 2018, with an elected worker committee, UAW representatives and officials of Bon Appétit.

(Tesla hit by lawsuit, called “hotbed for racist behavior.” Click Here for the story.)

The UAW is exercising some patience in its efforts to organize Tesla employees.

The collective bargaining agreement provides for substantial wage increases of at least 5% in the first year, major benefit improvements. Though not an automotive deal, the high-profile agreement does have a ripple effect.

The UAW has been actively seeking allies in what promises to be a long campaign to organize workers at Tesla Motors big manufacturing complex in Fremont, California, which employs some 10,000 workers in what are essentially blue-collar jobs.

(Click Here for details about the NLRB filing charges against Tesla.)

The campaign at Tesla appears to have raised the profile of the UAW across the Bay Area where it also represents several hundred post-doctoral researchers at the University of California flagship campus in Berkeley, California.

UAW president Dennis Williams has said the union has decided to hold off pressing for an election at Tesla to spend more time on the organizing of workers. But it has put pressure on Tesla and its founder, Elon Musk, through community groups and other unions in the San Francisco-Silicon Valley area.

(To see more about the UAW gearing up for organizing battle with Tesla, Click Here.)

The UAW also has filed unfair labor practices charges against Tesla and helped organize a study of workers injuries at the Fremont plant.

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