Protecting workers as we move to electric vehicles
The UAW strike is partly a response to concerns about the impact of the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) on the workforce. Electric vehicles have fewer parts than internal combustion engine vehicles, which will eliminate some jobs. Many of the new factories building electric vehicles are located in southern states that are hostile to unions. Tesla and some Asian electric carmakers pay workers relatively low wages. The union rightly sees this as a moment to influence how and where electric vehicles are built in the United States and ensure that labor gets a fair share of the profits generated by this new technology.
Against a backdrop of clashes between car management and unions, we see a political battle between those who seek to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles and those who want to promote fossil fuels or at least let the market determine the pace of the transition. to electric vehicles.as Rachel Frasing Recently reported in hill:
“The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill targeting California’s phase-out of gasoline-powered vehicles. The legislation, passed by the House in 222-190, would prohibit states from restricting sales of gasoline-powered vehicles…”
Current California law prohibits the sale of internal combustion engines after 2035. While the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House will not allow anti-EV bills to become law, the 2024 elections could change the political landscape. Meanwhile, more electric vehicles are appearing on America’s highways. While skepticism remains, the transition to electric vehicles is happening faster than most predictions. The speed of the transformation depends on a combination of consumer preferences and government incentives. The U.S. auto industry is highly profitable but currently claims losses on electric vehicles. Tesla doesn’t seem to have this problem, and over time car companies will make a lot of money from electric cars. Today, electric vehicles are more expensive to purchase than conventional vehicles, but have lower maintenance and operating costs. They are also designed from the ground up, providing manufacturers with the opportunity to create exciting new products with high market appeal. All of these factors indicate that new businesses based on new technologies are currently being built. Both labor and management understand that now is the time to establish new rules of the game.
In non-union factories, workers’ wages have stagnated and even declined when adjusted for inflation. At the same time, they see corporate profits and executive salaries growing. In my opinion, we need an agreement in which both labor and management are involved. There is no question that manufacturing in the U.S. economy is becoming more automated and requires fewer workers today than in the past. It’s possible to build electric cars without hurting union interests, but the problem is that many parts of the country are culturally and politically hostile to unions.according to Claire Busch, Taylor Nicole Rogers and Peter Campbell of Financial Times:
“Electrification does not pose the same threat to unions outside the U.S. In Germany, where unions have a seat on company boards, electric car workers are members of the same unions as engine operating workers. Even Tesla has avoided unions in California and Texas. Labor groups have even fired workers who tried to organize, but it also has unions in Germany, although the company has repeatedly clashed with workers over conditions and demands. But in the United States, German automaker Volkswagen has followed the example of U.S. automakers practices, opening factories in union-unfriendly southern states. In 2019, Volkswagen voted on its Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant, which makes the Volkswagen Atlas SUV and electric ID. 4. Workers refused to vote. In 2017, Nissan Mississippi Workers at a state plant voted against unionizing, while the Smyrna, Tennessee, plant that makes the electric Leaf also voted against unionizing earlier this year.
While the UAW has aggressively tried to increase its influence in the transition to electric vehicles, it has found itself embroiled in a political and cultural battle as well as traditional labor disputes. Workers in some parts of the country do not believe they benefit from union representation. Many management campaigns against unions have been successful. That’s not surprising in a political world dominated by disinformation and campaign finance, but unions need to figure out how to win over these workers if they are to succeed. Still, the UAW is gaining political support from the president and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, including elected leaders like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Perhaps most interesting is the stance environmental groups have taken on the dispute. While they support the transition to electric vehicles, they also support unions.according to Politicoof Ben Lefebvre:
“Environmental groups are siding with the UAW against the Big Three — never mind any setbacks for their green energy agenda. So far, only one of the three plants where union members have struck makes electric vehicles — the one in St. A Jeep Wrangler 4Xe built at Landis’ Toledo, Ohio, plant – but an expanded strike could threaten production of the car President Joe Biden wants to make up 50% of all new car sales by 2030 . Still, environmental groups are backing industrial action, saying there is a need to ensure factory workers are included in the transition to a cleaner economy… Green support for unions marks a relatively new move between the two Democratic-aligned factions Development. In recent years, environmental groups have expanded their mission to address a range of social issues, including racial and economic issues, in part to build broader coalitions to support their campaigns against climate change and pollution. Disproportionate impact on minority communities and low-income communities.”
This is a critical time for our pro-labor and pro-EV President of the United States to lead and ensure fairness to labor will enhance, not hinder, the transition to this new technology. New manufacturing plants incorporate more automation technology than existing plants. The new electric vehicle factory will use a variety of more advanced technologies than existing factories. Increased use of new technologies can increase the efficiency and productivity of the workforce and provide the possibility for higher wages based on increased productivity. However, problems can arise if wages increase but the number of employees decreases. Therefore, fair labor agreements need to prevent layoffs, include resources to train workers in new technologies, and base part of wage increases on increased sales and profitability of these newly designed products. In other words, part of the payroll settlement should be some form of profit sharing. Automakers and workers need to create mutual self-interest to achieve growing profits and rising wages. They have to be mindful of the fact that they are competing with lower-wage, non-union auto companies.
America’s transition from a manufacturing to a services economy has left many workers behind, stoked discontent and led to political polarization. Automation, new technology, new products like electric vehicles, and even global supply chains are bringing some manufacturing back to the United States. It won’t be a huge part of the economy, but it’s important. As this new sector of the economy develops, we need to focus on its impact on workers. Workers fear being replaced by automation and artificial intelligence. They need to be provided with safety nets and training to ensure they can navigate the world of work that new technologies will inevitably bring. We have an opportunity to build a new model of labor-management collaboration. The alternative is to return to the old model of industrial conflict. In addition to supporting unions, Congress and the president will need to enact new policies to help workers cope with the changing nature of work. While this Congress is too dysfunctional to do something so creative, the next Congress may be able to help American workers.