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U.A.W. Says It Aims to Organize Nonunion Auto Plants

After winning major gains in wages and benefits from two of the three Detroit automakers, the United Automobile Workers union is looking beyond the Motor City to car companies operating nonunion factories across the South.

In a speech to union members live-streamed on Facebook Sunday night, the U.A.W. president, Shawn Fain, said the union planned a push to organize plants at some of the nonunion automakers, such as Toyota, Honda and Tesla.

“One of our biggest goals coming out of this historic contract victory is to organize like we’ve never organized before,” Mr. Fain said. “When we return to the bargaining table in 2028, it won’t just be with the Big Three. It will be the Big Five or Big Six.”

The statement was one of Mr. Fain’s clearest to date that the U.A.W. intended to renew efforts to unionize the plants of foreign-owned automakers and Tesla, which operates nonunion vehicle plants in California and Texas.

The U.A.W. has previously tried to unionize Southern auto plants — where workers typically make significantly less than the top U.A.W. wage — with little success. While it has unionized some small component plants in the South, and represents workers employed by heavy truck manufacturers like Mack and Freightliner, it has not been able to organize plants owned by any major automaker there.

Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tenn., voted against U.A.W. representation in 2014. Workers at a Nissan plant in Canton, Miss., did the same in 2017. U.A.W. organizers have also tried to win support at a Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama.

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