BYD Workers Ratify Unprecedented Contract

On Saturday January 27th, the employees of the BYD Electric Bus manufacturing plant in Lancaster, CA ratified their first contract. The contract included significant wage increases, worker protections, expanded training opportunities and seniority rights that did not exists before the contract. Ratification also solidified SMART Local 105 as the bargaining unit for the nearly 500 workers at the facility.

Director of Organizing Jim White and International Organizer Manny Gonzalez, worked alongside Business Manager Luther Medina and Organizer Willy Solorzano, along with the Local 105 Organizing Department, for over 2 years to seal this deal. In February 2017, Local 105 conducted a successful card check with over 70% of the employees agreeing to have SMART Local 105 represent them with the employer. In July 2017, Local 105 along with Jobs to Move America (JMA), a coalition of community-based groups and electric bus manufacturer BYD Motors, announced the signing of a landmark community benefits agreement (CBA) that will create pathways into the manufacturing industry for underrepresented and underserved populations in Los Angeles County. That same month, Local 105 helped BYD secure a contract with LA Metro worth $48 Million to build Sixty 40’ Zero Emission Electric Buses. Finally, in January 2018, SMART Local 105, working with JMA, helped to pass the adoption of the US Employment Plan for rolling stock purchases at LA Metro. The U.S. Employment Plan (USEP), incentivizes manufacturers to create good local jobs and training programs, invest in new or existing manufacturing facilities and generate unprecedented opportunities for historically underserved communities.

These actions helped to educate the employer and employees at BYD in the value that a partnership with SMART Local 105 brings to their business. The employees overwhelmingly bought into that value, and over 90% of the votes cast were in favor of the contract.

“We are very happy and pleased that the workers realized the benefits they will be receiving with union representation”, said Local 105 President/Business Manager Luther Medina. “It’s a big victory for Local 105. We are pleased to be adding new members to the ranks of Sheet Metal Workers Local 105.”

Erika Paterson, California Director for Jobs to Move America, was also on hand to witness the vote. “This vote is going to transform the standards in the electric bus industry. There is no company that has a contract like this in this industry.”

Now that the ratification is complete, Local 105 is looking to win more contracts for the workers at BYD. At peak capacity, and an already expanded production floor, BYD could be the home to over 1200 SMART Local 105 Production Workers.

“It’s a very exciting time for SMART and Local 105”, said Local 105 Organizer Willy Solorzano. “It’s all about growing, making our union stronger and representing employees that need help.”