Good things are happening! Striking auto workers score historic victories in their tentative labor agreements with Big Three automakers, California cracks down on driverless cars, Big Oil faces a “climate-washing” trial in Hawaii, and homicides drop nationwide.
This is my first edition of You Love To See It, which I’ll be writing in the weeks to come. I’m a Phoenix-based writer and journalist — and I’m excited to be bringing you some good news each week.
— Katya Schwenk, Editorial Fellow for The Lever
Rock the boat.
A Clean Sweep For Auto Workers
Six weeks after the United Auto Workers (UAW) began targeted strikes against the country’s three most powerful automakers over stagnant wages during a time of record profits, the union has now reached tentative agreements with each company — and notched some major victories.
Even at its start, on September 15, the UAW’s “Stand Up” strike was historic: It was the first time in its history that the union had struck the nation’s Big Three automakers — General Motors (GM), Ford, and Stellantis — at once. At the strike’s peak, more than 40,000 UAW workers had walked off the job, costing automakers billions. Now, the UAW has something to show for it. The tentative contracts guarantee significant pay raises and substantial benefits that were lost in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
The agreements, the last of which the union reached on Monday with GM, must still be approved by the UAW membership. But they come with the full-throated endorsement of UAW president Shawn Fain, who on Sunday deemed the Ford deal “a turning point in the class war that has been raging in this country for the past 40 years.”
Over the course of the strike, Fain emerged as a new hero of a revitalized American labor movement. This spring, Fain, a democratic reformer, seized the UAW presidency from the union’s scandal-plagued old guard in a surprise victory, promising an end to a decade of, in his words, “nothing but concessions, corruption, and plant closures.” He’s demonstrated since then that those claims weren’t empty promises.
The tentative contracts don’t deliver on everything the membership had hoped for. Fain had originally demanded a four-day work week and a 46 percent raise. Some workers, as the Detroit News has reported, have expressed concern that the contracts don’t do enough to expand health care benefits for retirees.
But the contracts for GM, Ford, and Stellantis are undoubtedly stronger than any in recent memory. Each guarantees a 25 percent general wage increase over four and a half years, with a cost-of-living adjustment. Some temporary workers and other lower-wage workers will see their wages double. And the union won back its three-year wage progression — allowing workers to reach the highest-tier wage in three years, instead of the current eight. The concession effectively ends tiered employment, which kept new and temporary workers at far lower wages than workers with a longer tenure at the company.
What’s more, the agreements bring thousands of electric vehicle workers into the UAW, a key goal for Fain.
It’s a historic moment — and one that will likely reverberate far beyond the auto industry.
California Takes Back The Wheel
Just two months after California gave driverless cars free rein over the streets of San Francisco, the state is backtracking — a blow to Big Tech, and the deep-pocketed robotaxi lobby, which has spent the past couple of years wining and dining California transportation officials in order to get its autonomous vehicles (AVs) on the streets.