First-ever comprehensive labor neutrality agreement in semiconductor industry sets historic new precedent on brink of $52 billion allocation of federal CHIPS funding
- New deal for chip workers in Oakland means hundreds of workers will have a free and fair process to form a union at new $432 million factory
- Precedent-setting labor neutrality agreement raises standards for industry to support good-paying jobs as part of CHIPS Act expansion
OAKLAND, CA – In a significant milestone for the semiconductor manufacturing industry, IUE-CWA, Alameda County Building and Construction Trades Council, Jobs to Move America and Akash Systems, an innovative chip-maker, have announced labor agreements covering both construction and production workers, including an historic first-in-the-industry labor neutrality agreement for semiconductor production workers at a new $432 million Akash Systems factory set for construction in West Oakland, California. The facility will employ an estimated 500 workers over the next five years, of which about half will be production related.
Under the labor peace agreement (LPA) signed by IUE-CWA and Akash Systems, production workers at Akash will be able to exercise their freedom to form a union without interference from the employer. The groups plan to collaborate with Jobs to Move America on a strategy to deliver benefits to the West Oakland community, including a workforce development plan encompassing recruitment and training of under-represented groups.
This agreement marks a major step towards fostering stability, productivity, and long-term sustainability in an industry that operates in a highly competitive and rapidly changing environment.
“As we ramp up semiconductor production in the U.S., companies can choose whether or not to use the sector’s expansion to create high-quality jobs for American workers. Akash has proven that this can be a win-win for everyone,” said IUE-CWA President, Carl Kennebrew. “Community-sustaining good union jobs are essential for the prosperity of America’s semiconductor industry. This agreement with Akash is a game-changer, not only for the hundreds of workers at the new Oakland factory but also for setting a powerful precedent for workers across the industry to unite and elevate standards for these jobs nationwide.”
Labor peace agreements are crucial in industries like semiconductor manufacturing, where labor disputes can have a profound impact on business operations, leading to lost revenue, reputational damage, and even regulatory sanctions. The Akash-IUE-CWA agreement aims to mitigate such risks and create a productive environment for both the employer and workers, giving the company a competitive advantage.
“Akash Systems is committed to investing in the American workers who will help us bring semiconductor production back home to the U.S. and build the foundation of innovation that will keep our country on the cutting edge,” said Akash Systems co-founder and CEO Felix Ejeckam. “We are proud to work with elected officials here in California, labor unions like IUE-CWA and the Alameda County Building and Construction Trades Council, and organizations like Jobs to Move America to ensure this industry’s growth starts with strong investments in the workers who are critical to its success.”
Akash’s Project Labor Agreement with the Alameda Building Trades is a pre-hire collective bargaining agreement, establishing the terms and conditions of employment for construction workers.
“Akash is delivering on the promise of the CHIPS Act by rebuilding strategically important industrial capacity and deliberately creating quality jobs, especially for historically underserved communities,” said Andreas Cluver, Secretary Treasurer of the Alameda County Building Trades Council. “On the construction side, we are pleased to announce that Akash’s agreement emphasizes targeted hiring that will provide family sustaining careers for West Oakland residents. This is exactly the kind of community benefits that the Biden Administration has prioritized.”
The West Oakland Fab will be the first in the world dedicated to the production of a ground-breaking compound semiconductor, GaN-on-Diamond, a chip technology pioneered by Akash’s founders, which have applications in clean-energy equipment, electric vehicles, communications and aerospace/defense.
“I am proud to represent a region that is a leader in American technological innovation, with a Black-owned business like Akash Systems leading the way in the semiconductor industry,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “This deal between IUE-CWA, Alameda County Building and Construction Trades Council, Jobs to Move America and Akash Systems is a major victory for workers in Oakland and the manufacturing industry as a whole. As workers across the country leverage their organizing power, this is a huge step in the right direction for East Bay communities.”
This new agreement to support the right of semiconductor workers to form unions is part of Akash’s pioneering strategy to continue to move the industry forward with a focus on long-term success and bringing their innovative technology to a wide range of sectors critical to the success of America’s economy.
“Embracing hiring and training commitments isn’t just a strategy; it’s a pledge to foster growth and diversity.” said Erica Iheme, Co-Executive Director of Jobs to Move America. “Excitement amplifies when partnering with a black-owned business in California, where every collaboration is a step towards a more inclusive future with equity for families at the core of our fight.”
“I congratulate Akash Systems and IUE-CWA on working together on securing a labor peace agreement for the new $432 million Akash factory in West Oakland,” said Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao. “Workers from the Town will be able to exercise their right to organize and collectively bargain freely. The semiconductor industry is highly competitive and rapidly expanding. This agreement promotes stability for Akash System while ensuring high-quality jobs for workers.”
Akash Systems is an Oakland, CA-based, venture-backed, small business developing and manufacturing diamond-based semiconductors for the Space, Communications, EVs & Autonomous vehicles, AI, and Clean/Renewable Energy markets. Akash is the pioneer of Gallium Nitride-on-Diamond technology, the first new semiconductor wafer to enter the market in over 20-years. The new technology whisks heat away from an electronic device’s core faster than any other in the world. Akash’s satellite radios will be launched into space for the first time in the Summer of 2024. To learn more, visit www.AkashSystems.com.
IUE-CWA is the Industrial Division of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), a union of hundreds of thousands of public and private sector workers in communities across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. Territories. IUE-CWA members are united collectively to seek dignity on the job and a secure future for ourselves, our children and all future generations. To learn more, visit www.iue-cwa.org/about.
The Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda County is a coalition of 28 affiliated unions representing workers in various construction trades. The BTCA works with affiliated unions to increase the market share of construction work for union trades men and women in Alameda County and to promote Union Apprenticeship programs to train the next generation of skilled workers To learn more, visit www.btcalameda.org/about.
Jobs to Move America is a strategic policy center that works to transform public spending and corporate behavior with research, policy and community organizing across the county. JMA has led the negotiations of Community Benefits Agreements (CBA’s) with EV manufacturers, communities, and unions, and has worked closely with the Federal and state governments in developing policies to incentivize good jobs and racial equity in clean tech manufacturing. To learn more, visit www.jobstomoveamerica.org.