The United Automobile Workers union announced Wednesday that it was undertaking an ambitious drive to organize plants owned by more than a dozen nonunion automakers, including Tesla and several foreign companies — a goal that has long eluded it.
The move comes weeks after the U.A.W. won new contracts from General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis that included wage increases of 25 percent or more over four and a half years for its 146,000 members employed there.
In addition to Tesla, the targets of the drive are two other electric vehicle start-ups, Lucid and Rivian, and 10 foreign-owned automakers: Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Volkswagen, Mazda and Volvo.
If the U.A.W. secures a foothold among those companies, it could signal a big shift in the American auto industry, where nonunion manufacturers have long had a significant cost advantage over the Detroit automakers.
The union said the organizing drive had been prompted by inquiries from several thousand workers at nonunion plants.
“Workers across the country, from the West to the Midwest and especially in the South, are reaching out to join our movement and to join the U.A.W.,” the union’s president, Shawn Fain, said in a statement.
On Wednesday, the U.A.W. activated websites where workers can electronically sign union cards that serve as an official certification of their desire to have union representation. Earlier, at a handful of plants, the U.A.W. had already received signed cards from more than 30 percent of the work force, the threshold required under federal law for the union to move forward with a vote on unionization, a person familiar with the matter said.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.