General Motors (GM), Ford, and Stellantis (which owns Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep) have raked in massive profits since the auto industry collapse in the late 2000s, when United Auto Workers (UAW) workers took huge concessions to try to spare the jobs of their fellow workers. Now, the industry has righted itself, sales and profit have skyrocketed, and CEOs and management of these Big Three automakers have gotten huge bonuses—but the autoworkers responsible for creating all this profit have gotten next to nothing.
The people that gave the most got the least. That must change. Around the country, 150,000 members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) are now on strike or working without a contract. These workers are fighting for good, safe, family-supporting jobs and their fair share. As President Biden noted of the strike, the outcome of these negotiations should ensure that “record corporate profits mean record contracts.” All of this is happening against the backdrop of a generational industry transformation—the transition to clean and electric vehicles (EVs).
EVs are here, and UAW workers across the country are ready to build them
Fortunately, the Big Three are getting historic federal support to build EVs here in the United States from the Inflation Reduction Act, which was signed by President Biden last year. Not only does the law include incentives to build EVs and their parts here, but it also provides billions in grants and loans to keep at-risk or recently closed facilities running by transforming production lines that were building internal combustion engine vehicles and their parts into production lines building cleaner cars.
These federal investments are working. Demand for EVs is exploding and they are selling at record high rates. Investment in EV manufacturing domestically is skyrocketing, as well. Since the Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law last August, there has been approximately $66 billion of investments announced supporting 60,000 EV manufacturing jobs in 117 facilities around the country. It’s a good time to be in the automaking business.
So then why do automakers continue to close profitable union facilities—like those in Belvidere, IL, Lordstown, Ohio, and Romeo, MI—and move auto manufacturing jobs overseas or into new non-union plants? The answer is simple: To evade UAW national contracts that currently cover workers at the Big Three’s existing facilities, allowing the companies to pay lower wages and weaken health and safety standards.
The environmental and labor partners of the BlueGreen Alliance understand that we don’t have to choose between good jobs and a clean environment. We can and must have both. It’s a false choice when companies claim they can’t pay workers family-supporting wages and at the same time manufacture EVs at a scale and pace to mee the climate moment. Yes they can.
We urge the Big Three to work with UAW to end the strike and treat fairly the workers who continue to build their record profits.