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Managing Director Insights

Striking Out?


Unions are mostly in the north, northeast, and west and union membership is declining.

In 1980, 20% of all jobs were unionized.

In 2023, only 10% are.

In manufacturing alone, union jobs in the USA have dropped from 14% – 7.5% from 2020 to 2023.

And most union members are ages 55 to 64 years of age, and the scale decreases continuously, with the lowest amount of members in the age 16 to 24 category.

The traditional Detroit 3 Automakers have unionized facilities but competitors such as Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Toyota, Hyundai, and Tesla have steadily hired non-union autoworkers who make less money for the same work in the south.

The differences between states depends on right-to-work laws, which prohibit requiring employees to join unions to get or keep a job. 27 states have this designation currently, mostly the south.

It’s why in the 1970’s, manufacturing for the automotive industry shifted south and manufacturing for vehicles continues to move to the south today.

Since 1990, the south’s auto jobs have jumped from 15% to 30% today, and the midwest’s share has droped from 60% – 45%.

Here’s what all of this means.

Ford, GM, and Stellantis are competing at an unfair disadvantage compared to their competitors, and it’s why they continue to lose market share to foreign competitors.

Fain’s request for 40% rate hikes would cost the Detroit 3 billions … and they are already at a cost disadvantage currently.

The EV movement though, will help the Detroit 3 get back to an equal playing field labor-wise.

They have signed JV agreements with battery manufacturers for plants in KY and TN that will produce EV batteries and trucks, these will be non-union facilities and will require less labor at a cheaper cost, and less parts.

In terms of the new EV jobs, the south is projected to gain 66% and the Midwest just 26%.

Markets matter and the tide continues to shift south bound automotive industry-wise … simply because there are no unions which makes labor cheaper.

But make no mistake about it.

Cars will still be made in the US and suppliers will sell parts.

But increasingly, they’ll be coming from the south.

61-77, sunshine.

Make it a great Friday!


SCN – Search Consulting Network

Jim Guerrera

Author Info

Jim Guerrera

Jim Guerrera, Managing Director, founded SCN in 2000. Jim is primarily responsible for the development of the leaders at SCN, strategic planning, the hiring and development of company associates, culture leadership, core value leadership, sales le...

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