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Calling out the Southern Exploiters


Shawn Fain smacks back at these southern politicians and employers whining about the UAW organizing campaign. Will it shock you that he has no time for their bullshit?

At Mercedes, rank-and-file workers, not UAW officials, have taken the lead in organizing the plant. “Workers at Mercedes have literally run this campaign with very little help from us,” Fain said. “They wanted it that way. It’s great to see those workers feeling their power and being able to exercise their power.”

He scoffed at attacks from corporate executives and southern politicians that the UAW is a third party. He said that the union was its members, not an outside group, and that it was the companies that bring in third parties – outside consultants who spread anti-union information.

“The employees aren’t fooled by the companies’ tricks any more,” Fain said. “It’s the same tactics companies use every time. Workers have seen it repeatedly. I believe the workers are ready. They know the companies will continue to use fear and continue to use politicians as their surrogates using fear.”

In the Guardian interview, Fain fired back at the governors of six southern states who had condemned the UAW’s campaign, saying it was “driven by misinformation”. “They’re liars. The people who are doing the misleading are them,” Fain said. “These politicians are showing that they’re just puppets for corporate America, and they don’t give a damn about working-class people. They don’t care about the workers being left behind even though the workers are the ones who elect them.”

Fain was palpably angry that the Republican governors of Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas had issued a joint letter denouncing the UAW as “special interests looking to come into our state and threaten our jobs”. Fain said the governors were the ones “wrecking the economy because they don’t care about working people having a decent wage. It’s working-class people who move the economy.” He added that the governors’ “economy is the economy of the billionaire class and corporate class where they take all the profits, and the workers get left behind”.

In a celebratory meeting with the VW workers in Chattanooga late on Friday night and in his interview with the Guardian, Fain said the VW workers now needed to focus on bargaining a first union contract. “I expect good things to happen for the VW workers,” he said. “We want to use the big three contracts as our framework.” He added that VW’s workers would play a big role in formulating “a list of demands” for the contract talks.

And lest you think that Fain has any patience for Republicans:

Fain acknowledged that Musk “will probably be a lot more hostile” to a union drive than other CEOs. “At the end of the day, it’s the workers’ choice. It’s not Elon Musk’s choice,” he said. “As we continue to organize more and more companies, that makes it more and more inevitable that it [unionizing Tesla] is going to happen. We’re going to continue to show up and assist workers who want justice and better treatment on the job.”

Asked what Joe Biden should do to attract union members’ votes, Fain said: “He has to continue doing what he’s been doing, which is supporting workers in their fights.” Fain praised Biden for becoming the first sitting president to walk a union picket line – Biden joined a UAW picket line in Michigan last September when the union was on strike against Detroit’s big three automakers. He also praised Biden for making it easier to unionize EV battery plants.

Fain criticized Donald Trump’s stance on EVs. Trump has warned that Biden’s plans to expand EV sales could be a bloodbath for the US economy and a boon for Chinese manufacturers. Fain told the Guardian that Trump’s plans to shrink America’s EV industry could endanger many auto workers. “There are a lot of workers out there that in the [electric vehicle] industry who stand to lose their jobs,” he said

Meanwhile, Teamsters head Sean O’Brien keeps cozying up to Republicans.

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