News & Commentary

January 8, 2024

In today’s News and Commentary, EV-startup Lucid is accused of illegally firing two employees because of union support, workers at a Norfolk, VA Costco vote overwhelmingly to unionize, and Teamsters President Sean M. O’Brien meets with former President Trump as the union considers its 2024 Presidential endorsement.

In a complaint filed Tuesday, the NLRB accused EV-startup Lucid Group Inc. of violating federal law by threatening, transferring and retaliating against employees. Two employees were fired early last year for supporting a United Auto Workers organizing effort at the company. Off the success of its stand up strike, the UAW announced its plans to organize 13 nonunion automakers, however it is clear that these efforts have been ongoing for some time. Many nonunion automakers recently raised hourly wages at their plants in response to the union’s recent contract wins. The fired Lucid employees may have to wait much longer for remedy – the hearing for their complaint is set for October 9, 2024, over a year and a half after their firings.

Workers at a Norfolk, VA Costco voted 111-92 to unionize with the Teamsters last month. The Teamsters currently represent 18,000 Costco workers nationwide, but have not successfully organized a Costco location in close to two decades. Workers organized around several workplace improvement issues including higher wages, safety, pension contributions and a more flexible attendance policy. In a December 29 memo to Costco employees, the former and incoming CEOs wrote that “the fact that a majority of Norfolk employees felt they wanted or needed a union constitutes a failure on our part.” Costco is widely viewed as worker-friendly and workers’ average pay is double that of Walmart’s, yet workers feel that post-pandemic successes have not translated into higher wages or better conditions.

Former President Trump and Teamsters general president Sean O’Brien met at Mar-a-Lago on January 3rd. The union has yet to endorse a 2024 presidential candidate and claims it is scheduling meetings with all the presidential candidates before announcing its endorsement. Meanwhile, President Biden appears to be competing for these key union endorsements. In December, he issued an executive order mandating project labor agreements for all federal contracts over $35 million. He appointed a Teamsters’ senior representative to a high-profile advisory board at the Transportation Department. In September, Biden joined UAW strikers in Michigan, becoming the first sitting President to join a picket line. Union leadership is holding out on these endorsements, instead looking to maintain leverage with both parties.

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