Sep 19, 2023

Biden’s Labor And Climate Politics Collide With Autoworkers’ Strike

Biden’s climate agenda comes home to roost with an unprecedented strike on all three major auto companies in the U.S.
Biden’s Labor And Climate Politics Collide With Autoworkers’ Strike

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Written by Hudson Crozier

What’s happening: Thousands of workers from the Big Three automotive companies — Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis — went on strike over the weekend. The United Auto Workers (UAW) union is negotiating for higher pay, a shorter work week, and other benefits.

Why they’re doing it: Central to their strike is the auto industry’s pivot toward electric vehicle (E.V.) manufacturing, which requires fewer workers and threatens jobs. The workers also want to be compensated for rising inflation and losses from the 2008 financial crisis.

Why it matters: Earlier this year, President Joe Biden’s administration proposed a policy requiring automakers to sell mostly electric vehicles by 2032 to combat climate change. The UAW strike is in response to this transition, which could stall manufacturing and drive up prices if it lasts long enough.

  • California’s role: California is attempting to completely ban gas-powered cars by 2035, adding to the pressure.

Dive deeper: Biden campaigned on a “pro-union” platform in 2020, but some feel he hasn’t lived up to his promises. Due to his push for E.V.s, the UAW is wary of supporting his reelection. In hopes of boosting his reputation among unions, the president is publicly backing the United Auto Workers and sending officials this week to help with negotiations.

  • A 2024 issue: Former President Donald Trump, Biden’s top rival for the 2024 election, has taken attacks from the Biden campaign for claiming that he is the more pro-worker candidate. But Trump has leverage: He notably won Michigan in 2016, promising to protect auto industry workers.
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