UAW plans ‘buy American’ ad campaign

UAW plans ‘buy American’ ad campaign
Katie Burke RSS feed
Automotive News | February 16, 2017 – 2:23 pm EST
UAW President Dennis Williams said he is “in discussions” to produce advertisements to encourage U.S. customers to buy union-made cars manufactured in America. The idea was inspired by a revived buy American sentiment that has been growing since the 2008 recession.

DETROIT — The UAW is planning to launch a “buy American” advertising campaign.

At a meeting with reporters on Thursday, UAW President Dennis Williams said he is “in discussions” to produce advertisements to encourage U.S. customers to buy union-made cars manufactured in America. The idea was inspired by a revived buy American sentiment that has been growing since the 2008 recession.

“I haven’t seen it this way for many years,” Williams said. “People now know the impact of an economy that is reckless in trade and policies and how it impacts their lives.”

As more people express interest in buying American-made vehicles, he said it’s important to educate consumers, especially since U.S. automakers operate plants outside the country. Earlier this month, the UAW criticized General Motors for a Buick ad feature two vehicles assembled in South Korea and Poland.

“No company can survive without the market of the United States of America,” Williams said. “We have a lot of purchasing power. It’s time for us to actually use that purchasing power.”

Williams said he gave kudos to President Donald Trump for being the first president to point out the multitude of issues with the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has spurred automaker investments in Mexico. Trump said he intends to renegotiate NAFTA and will pull out of the agreement altogether if negotiations fail.

Though he is concerned with Trump’s stance on immigration, health care and the environment, Williams said he plans on reaching out to the administration to organize a meeting to provide the UAW’s opinions on NAFTA negotiations.

Union membership was dissatisfied with the most recent presidential election, making it even more necessary for the UAW to work with the current administration, Williams said. Though nearly 60 percent of UAW members voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and 33 percent voted for Trump, an unprecedented 8 percent voted for neither candidate of a major party, according to an internal survey.

“I think even those who voted for Clinton or Trump had some discomfort with it,” Williams said.

Tesla unionization

The UAW has also been working with employees at Tesla Inc. Fremont, Calif., factory who have expressed interest in unionizing. Williams said they are still reviewing the conditions at the plant, but ultimately, Tesla employees will decide for or against unionization.

Tesla workers have been in contact with the UAW for about eight months, and their efforts attracted more attention last week when an employee published a blog detailing harsh working conditions and low wages at the plant. Tesla CEO Elon Musk responded to the claim, saying the author was hired by the UAW.

Williams said Musk’s comments were “bizarre” and the union is proceeding to work with Tesla employees.

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