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Oh Please, Please Let Shawn Fain Take Down Elon Musk
God it would be beautiful.
It’s been a good couple of weeks for US workers, thanks to the United Auto Workers, led by Shawn Fain who is president of both the union and of our hearts. Because the thing is, a rising tide lifts all boats and when unions raise wages for their members, non-union shops are forced to raise their own numbers to keep competitive.
When the UAW snagged immediate 11 percent raises for members working for the Big Three auto manufacturers — and really, a WHOLE LOT more — Toyota started quaking in its boots. Or their trunks, because this is America.
Anyway, in hopes of fending off any thoughts of unionizing that might be dancing in their workers’ heads, the car manufacturer raised wages 9 percent, meaning that those at the top of the chain will see a raise of $2.94, bumping them up to $34.80 an hour.
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That bump is a UAW bump, Fain said in a Facebook live broadcast Thursday night — in which he made it clear that the next step is to organize companies like Toyota and come back to the table in 2028 with a huge union ready to make even bigger demands.
“If this is what Toyota gives you when the Big Three stand up and fight,” Fain said, “imagine what you could accomplish if you joined the UAW and stand up and fight for yourselves.”
Probably a lot, given that it is the world’s top-selling auto manufacturer!
Fain has also set his sights on Tesla.
Elon Musk, who has been known to go into hysterics at the mere mention of unionization (also most other things as he is very fragile), has fended off a unionization effort before, which conveniently (for him) occurred during a UAW scandal. That time, he wrote a letter to employees promising them frozen yogurt and roller coasters.
No, I’m not kidding. This is the letter:
“As we get closer to being a profitable company, we will be able to afford more and more fun things. For example, as I mentioned at the last company talk, we are going to hold a really amazing party once Model 3 reaches volume production later this year. There will also be little things that come along like free frozen yogurt stands scattered around the factory and my personal favorite: a Tesla electric pod car roller coaster (with an optional loop the loop route, of course!) that will allow fast and fun travel throughout our Fremont campus, dipping in and out of the factory and connecting all the parking lots. It’s going to get crazy good.”
Narrator: There were not, in fact, free frozen yogurt stands and roller coasters. But even if there were …
Last time, also, Musk got so involved that the National Labor Relations Board came for him, over firing workers for organizing, banning UAW shirts on the floor, and for Musk’s own threatening-sounding tweets. A court later ordered Tesla to rehire one of those workers and give him back pay and also found that Musk illegally interfered in unionizing efforts by tweeting that employees could lose their stock options if they unionized.
“We can beat anybody,” Fain told Bloomberg on Thursday. “It’s gonna come down to the people that work for him deciding if they want their fair share ... or if they want him to fly himself to outer space at their expense."
The UAW has already started getting in contact with Tesla’s 20,000 employees in order to talk to them about the benefits of union membership.
“I believe it’s doable," Fain said.
Honestly? With his track record so far? Musk shouldn’t be so confident in the ability of imaginary FroYo carts to sway is workers this time.