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Huber Weighs In on United Auto Workers Strike in The Hill

September 19, 2023

The Hill

Matt Huber

Matthew T. Huber

The United Auto Workers (UAW) strike is bringing disputes over electric vehicles (EVs) into the spotlight, testing the Biden administration’s balancing act between two key Democratic constituencies.

The Democratic party has often had to walk a tightrope to address supporters who rank climate change as a top concern while also reassuring union members in the automotive and energy industries. 

The stalemate in negotiations largely relates to disagreements over wages, benefits and job protections, but the transition to electric vehicles also played a major role. Workers have raised concerns that automakers are using the shift to electric vehicles to undercut wages.

“The UAW…strike action is ultimately trying to realize one of the Biden Administration’s core policy goals and political selling points: you can have good, family-sustaining union jobs alongside climate action. The problem is the automakers see EV production as a way to trim labor costs and shift production to non-union plants,” says Matt Huber, professor of geography and the environment.

“The UAW’s ultimate proposal is that if it takes less labor to produce EVs, why not shorten working hours and maintain pay with the cost of living?” Huber adds. “This would certainly lend credence to the Biden Administration’s claim that climate action can improve working and middle class lives.”

Read more in The Hill article, “Autoworkers strike brings EV issues to fore.”

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