‘Low-Road Jobs’: Biden’s Electric Vehicle Push Rattles Major Auto Union Supporter

The United Auto Workers (UAW) has criticized the Biden administration for a multibillion-dollar loan package that seeks to boost the production of electric vehicles (EV), saying it shortchanges traditional autoworkers who could lose their jobs or be paid lower wages. “The federal government announced a massive $9.2 billion giveaway loan to Ford Motor Co. through the Department of Energy to create 7,500 low-road jobs with no consideration for wages, working conditions, union rights, or retirement security,” the autoworkers union, a longtime ally of the Democratic Party, said in a June 23 statement. “Low-road jobs” refer to employment with low wages, basic benefits, and uninspiring working conditions. “This handout may further enrich Ford shareholders, but it shortchanges communities and the UAW members who produce Ford’s vehicles, powertrains, and record-breaking profits.” On June 22, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced a loan of up to $9.2 billion to BlueOval SK LLC, a joint venture between Ford and Korean EV battery maker SK On, to build three EV battery-manufacturing factories. The venture is expected to have 7,500 employees once the plants are operating. UAW President Shawn Fain criticized the move, pointing out that “these companies are extremely profitable and will continue to make money hand over fist whether they’re selling combustion engines or EVs. Yet the workers get a smaller and smaller piece of the pie.” “Why is Joe Biden’s administration facilitating this corporate greed with taxpayer money?” he asked. The concern of traditional auto unions stems from concern that the shift to EVs will come at a cost to its workers. It’s estimated that EVs could require 30 percent less manufacturing labor compared to traditional cars. In addition, modern factories could require a better education. Ford and Lordstown Situation In August 2022, Ford cut 3,000 jobs. Earlier, CEO Jim Farley had said that the company employed too many people and that many of its employees didn’t have the requisite skills as the industry shifts to EVs and digital services. Like other longtime auto brands, Ford’s workforce was hired to support a combustion engine product lineup. Fain said that workers who build General Motors (GM) products in Lordstown, Ohio, have had their lives “turned upside down” in the past five years as the company forced them to retire, quit, or shift their families to other parts of the United States when the firm shut down their plants despite making “massive profits.” “Their jobs were replaced in GM’s new joint-venture battery facility with jobs that pay half of what workers made at the previous Lordstown plant. Not only is the White House refusing to right this wrong, they’re giving Ford $9.2 billion to create the same low-road jobs in Kentucky and Tennessee.” In a statement to Bloomberg, Ford said that it expects BlueOval SK to pay “competitive wages and benefits to attract and retain the workforce needed to build high-tech batteries.” In addition, employees at the new plants “will be able to choose whether they organize, a right that Ford fully respects and supports.” The UAW, which represents more than 400,000 active workers, has long served as a strong backer of Democrats in the Midwest. On the other hand, sizable support exists for former President Donald Trump in the organization. According to a November 2016 tweet by Detroit Free Press reporter Nathan Bomey, internal polling by the UAW showed that 32 percent of its members had voted for Trump. While the UAW endorsed Biden in 2020, the organization is so far withholding its support for a 2024 presidential candidate amid the administration’s push for electric vehicles and other issues. Race to the Bottom In his June 23 statement, Fain pointed out that the last time the federal government gave billions of dollars to the “Big Three”—that is, GM, Ford, and Chrysler—the companies did “the exact same thing” by cutting jobs and slashing wages. “We have been absolutely clear that the switch to electric engine jobs, battery production, and other EV manufacturing cannot become a race to the bottom. Not only is the federal government not using its power to turn the tide, they’re actively funding the race to the bottom with billions in public money,” he said. “Autoworkers and our families took the hit in 2009 in the name of saving the industry. We were never made whole, and it’s an absolute shame to see another Democratic administration doubling down on a taxpayer-funded corporate giveaway.” The UAW has previously expressed concerns about the push for electric vehicles, worried it would potentially affect its workers. In May, the organization criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new emission rules, stating that a transition to EVs will not succeed until there is “economic justice for the workers who make the auto industry run.” Wooing Unions Biden is currently wooing labor unions for his 2024 presidential campaign. In

‘Low-Road Jobs’: Biden’s Electric Vehicle Push Rattles Major Auto Union Supporter

The United Auto Workers (UAW) has criticized the Biden administration for a multibillion-dollar loan package that seeks to boost the production of electric vehicles (EV), saying it shortchanges traditional autoworkers who could lose their jobs or be paid lower wages.

“The federal government announced a massive $9.2 billion giveaway loan to Ford Motor Co. through the Department of Energy to create 7,500 low-road jobs with no consideration for wages, working conditions, union rights, or retirement security,” the autoworkers union, a longtime ally of the Democratic Party, said in a June 23 statement.

“Low-road jobs” refer to employment with low wages, basic benefits, and uninspiring working conditions.

“This handout may further enrich Ford shareholders, but it shortchanges communities and the UAW members who produce Ford’s vehicles, powertrains, and record-breaking profits.”

On June 22, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced a loan of up to $9.2 billion to BlueOval SK LLC, a joint venture between Ford and Korean EV battery maker SK On, to build three EV battery-manufacturing factories. The venture is expected to have 7,500 employees once the plants are operating.

UAW President Shawn Fain criticized the move, pointing out that “these companies are extremely profitable and will continue to make money hand over fist whether they’re selling combustion engines or EVs. Yet the workers get a smaller and smaller piece of the pie.”

“Why is Joe Biden’s administration facilitating this corporate greed with taxpayer money?” he asked.

The concern of traditional auto unions stems from concern that the shift to EVs will come at a cost to its workers. It’s estimated that EVs could require 30 percent less manufacturing labor compared to traditional cars. In addition, modern factories could require a better education.

Ford and Lordstown Situation

In August 2022, Ford cut 3,000 jobs. Earlier, CEO Jim Farley had said that the company employed too many people and that many of its employees didn’t have the requisite skills as the industry shifts to EVs and digital services.

Like other longtime auto brands, Ford’s workforce was hired to support a combustion engine product lineup.

Fain said that workers who build General Motors (GM) products in Lordstown, Ohio, have had their lives “turned upside down” in the past five years as the company forced them to retire, quit, or shift their families to other parts of the United States when the firm shut down their plants despite making “massive profits.”

“Their jobs were replaced in GM’s new joint-venture battery facility with jobs that pay half of what workers made at the previous Lordstown plant. Not only is the White House refusing to right this wrong, they’re giving Ford $9.2 billion to create the same low-road jobs in Kentucky and Tennessee.”

In a statement to Bloomberg, Ford said that it expects BlueOval SK to pay “competitive wages and benefits to attract and retain the workforce needed to build high-tech batteries.” In addition, employees at the new plants “will be able to choose whether they organize, a right that Ford fully respects and supports.”

The UAW, which represents more than 400,000 active workers, has long served as a strong backer of Democrats in the Midwest. On the other hand, sizable support exists for former President Donald Trump in the organization. According to a November 2016 tweet by Detroit Free Press reporter Nathan Bomey, internal polling by the UAW showed that 32 percent of its members had voted for Trump.

While the UAW endorsed Biden in 2020, the organization is so far withholding its support for a 2024 presidential candidate amid the administration’s push for electric vehicles and other issues.

Race to the Bottom

In his June 23 statement, Fain pointed out that the last time the federal government gave billions of dollars to the “Big Three”—that is, GM, Ford, and Chrysler—the companies did “the exact same thing” by cutting jobs and slashing wages.

“We have been absolutely clear that the switch to electric engine jobs, battery production, and other EV manufacturing cannot become a race to the bottom. Not only is the federal government not using its power to turn the tide, they’re actively funding the race to the bottom with billions in public money,” he said.

“Autoworkers and our families took the hit in 2009 in the name of saving the industry. We were never made whole, and it’s an absolute shame to see another Democratic administration doubling down on a taxpayer-funded corporate giveaway.”

The UAW has previously expressed concerns about the push for electric vehicles, worried it would potentially affect its workers.

In May, the organization criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new emission rules, stating that a transition to EVs will not succeed until there is “economic justice for the workers who make the auto industry run.”

Wooing Unions

Biden is currently wooing labor unions for his 2024 presidential campaign. In his first rally since announcing his candidacy, he addressed labor union members in Philadelphia on June 17, saying that “it’s time for millionaires and billionaires and big corporations to pay their fair share. I can get that done, but I need you badly. So are you with me?”

The president insisted that he’s looking to build an economy “from the bottom up and the middle out, not the top down,” and went on to claim that his legislative wins have created millions of new jobs.

Even though Biden is trying to court unions, many of his working-class supporters are concerned about the way the president has handled the economy and inflation. America’s economic growth rate has been stagnating in recent quarters, and inflation has remained elevated for quite some time.

Meanwhile, Biden is slipping against Trump in public approval. According to a June 27 survey by Morning Consult, the president trails Trump by 3 percentage points among the general electorate, which marked “Trump’s largest advantage by this metric since tracking began in December.”