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An online current events platform that connects conventional learners in grades 3-12 to the world around them with custom-written current events articles for teacher-led discussions, interactive slides and activities for students to demonstrate understanding.

Story Text | United Auto Workers Go On Strike
United Auto Workers go on strike for higher
pay and benefits

The UAW represents around 145,000 auto workers.
[1] The United Auto Workers, a large union that represents car makers, just went on strike. Does anyone know what it means to “go on strike?” (To refuse to go to work in order to force a company to change its labor

[2] The United Auto Workers, or UAW, has around 145,000 members. It’s one of the biggest and most powerful unions in America. What is a labor union? (An organization of workers who collectively fight for their rights.)

[3] Here, you see Shawn Fain. He is the president of UAW. He’s been the president of the union since March 2023 and is now leading the strike. Fain says that car companies are making record profits while wages for auto workers have remained the same for years now. Fain and UAW are calling for higher pay, as well as a shorter work week and more benefits.

[4] The strike targets Ford, which you see here, General Motors, and Stellantis. Together, these three companies make about half of all the cars sold in the U.S. every year. Did you know that so many cars were made by just a few companies? The owners of these companies say that their profits haven’t increased enough to give the workers what they’re asking for.

[5] Many politicians have voiced their opinions on the strike. Senator Bernie Sanders, who you see here, was one of the first to publicly come out in support of UAW. Other politicians have done the same, and on September 26, President Biden made history by becoming the first sitting president to join a picket line. Some Republicans, however, including Senator Tim Scott, have criticized the strike. How do you think this strike will end? Why? Unions were formed to protect the rights of workers.

[6] Labor unions are an important, and controversial, part of the U.S. economy and political system. Let’s take a closer look at their history and how they work. Do you know anyone in a labor union?

[7] A long time ago, land and business owners had all the power. They could make people work all day for little or no money, and workers and peasants didn’t have a way to fight back.

[8] But in the mid-1800s, during the Industrial Revolution, things changed. What was the Industrial Revolution? (A period in the 19th century when much of Western Europe and the United States went from having economies based around agriculture to having economies based around large-scale manufacturing.) In the Industrial Revolution, many people started working close together, which allowed them to talk.

[9] These workers would talk about how they were being mistreated. Then, they realized that if they worked together, they could fight to make things better. Labor unions started forming all over the country.

[10] Some union leaders have become national figures. Here you see César Chávez. He was one of the founders of United Farm Workers, or UFW, a union for farm laborers. In the 1960s and 70s, farm workers were getting paid very little and had to work long hours in dangerous conditions. UFW called for a national boycott of lettuce, grapes, and other produce. This tactic worked. Why do you think boycotts are an effective strategy? (It means that companies make less money.)

[11] Unions are the reason why we have the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, weekends, and many other things we take for granted today. While union membership has declined over the last few decades, it seems that this trend may be starting to reverse. Do you think it’s a good idea for a worker to be in a union?
Why or why not?

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