The event followed recent announcements of plant idling, like General Motors’ (GM) announcement late last year that the company would cease production at several U.S. plants.
The leaders said these deliberate decisions by companies are taking the industry, American workers, and the economy down the wrong path and highlighted GM plants in Michigan and Maryland that already build the vehicles and technology of the future. They argued U.S. economic leadership will depend on—and that a company’s commitments to EVs and advanced vehicles should be judged by—the commitment to building this technology in America.
“The title of the event says it all—Build it Here,” said Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI). “Build electric vehicles here with the best and toughest workforce in the global market place—the America auto worker. We also must make significant investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure for all communities to increase the deployment and adoption of electric vehicles, which will simultaneously create a pathway to a clean energy future while supporting good manufacturing jobs and keeping our automotive industry strong. We can’t afford to cede this moment to China or any other country in the world—build it here in America.”
“Abandoning a state-of-the-art facility like that in White Marsh, Maryland, represents a massive missed opportunity for GM,” said Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD). “The White Marsh facility’s highly skilled workforce is already proving that we can build the next generation of electric vehicles here in the United States.”
“I am proud to work at a plant where we meet high standards and are very environmentally conscious,” said Guy White, a member of UAW Local 239 and machine repair technician at the General Motors Global Propulsion Systems Allison/Baltimore plant. “The work we do is truly cutting edge, and should be continued. We need to keep auto jobs here, invest in them, and grow technology in the United States to support EV production.”
Since the recession, the auto industry has recovered over 700,000 dealership and manufacturing jobs and seen record sales, while it simultaneously implemented world-leading fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards. Research from BlueGreen Alliance and NRDC found nearly 300,000 workers across the nation currently making the components and materials that improve fuel economy and cut emissions in today’s innovative vehicles. The groups warned that these gains could be at risk from poor decision-making by companies and actions undertaken by the Trump administration.
“We need to have working peoples’ backs,” said Zoe Lipman, Director, Vehicles and Advanced Transportation with the BlueGreen Alliance. “Actions by the administration—like their proposed rollback of fuel economy standards—don’t just hurt consumers and the environment, they will reduce manufacturing jobs and cut billions in investment in communities around the country. Instead of throwing our progress in reverse, we should be pursuing a national agenda to rapidly ramp up manufacturing of advanced and electric vehicles, components, batteries, and cells in the United States and secure and create good American jobs.”
“We need to be asking ourselves if America will seize—or squander—the opportunity to grow good jobs making EV and other advanced vehicle technology here in the United States,” continued Lipman.
“We know that we can lead in EV and advanced vehicle technology, but we need investments in these technologies to stay here to do so,” said Josh Nassar, UAW Legislative Director. “Not only do we need to continue to invest in EVs and advanced technology here in the United States, we need to ensure that the jobs created in this area are good, union jobs.”
A 2018 report from the BlueGreen Alliance found that annual EV sales have grown nearly ten-fold since 2011, when there were just two mass market EVs available for sale in the United States, to 2017, when the industry offered dozens of models from virtually every major manufacturer.
“We need action now to curb the carbon pollution that is causing climate change, and that means expanding the use of American-made technology to cut tailpipe emissions and speeding the adoption of electric vehicles,” said Luke Tonachel, Director for Clean Vehicles and Fuels at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The Trump administration’s plan to gut our current standards is a step backward. It would harm our climate, cost us American-made jobs, and mean drivers will have to pay more at the pump.”