United Automobile Workers (UAW) union President Dennis Williams said at a press conference on Thursday that the UAW plans to launch a “Buy American” advertising campaign. Details such as the size of the ad buy and when the campaign would start were absent, but the UAW’s advertising is intended to encourage U.S. consumers to buy union-made vehicles manufactured in the United States.
That’s a boost for Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) — the so-called Detroit Three — and a poke in the eye to Japan-based automakers Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) and Honda Motor Co. Ltd (NYSE: HMC), both of which operated large non-union manufacturing plants in the United States. Nissan, Subaru, Hyundai, Kia, BMW and Daimler also operate non-union plants in the country. A small number of Volkswagen employees at its Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant are represented by the UAW.
Williams told Automotive News that a revival of sentiment for buying American-made products has been growing since the Great Recession:
I haven’t seen it this way for many years. People now know the impact of an economy that is reckless in trade and policies and how it impacts their lives. … No company can survive without the market of the United States of America. We have a lot of purchasing power. It’s time for us to actually use that purchasing power.
That’s a not-so backhanded swipe at free-trade agreements like NAFTA that have led to increased investment by U.S. automakers in plants in Canada and Mexico. And while Williams expressed concerns of President Trump’s policies on immigration, health care and the environment, Williams also praised Trump’s promise to renegotiate NAFTA.
The only U.S.-based carmaker that does not have a union agreement is Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA), and a recent blog post from a worker at Tesla’s California plant has shined a light on that fact. Company CEO Elon Musk complained that the post was written by a UAW-hired author, but cited no evidence for that. The UAW says it continues to work with Tesla employees, and there is no indication of a forthcoming vote for union representation.
See the union’s list of vehicles manufactured by UAW-represented plants in the United States and Canada.