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Biden Faces Pressure from Auto Workers’ Dispute Over Electric Vehicles

President Joe Biden is facing pressure from autoworkers and the Big Three automakers over the transition to electric vehicles, which is a key part of his climate change agenda. Workers are threatening to strike unless Ford, GM, and Stellantis agree to pay United Auto Workers-level wages and benefits to all joint-venture U.S. plants making batteries for EVs. Currently, workers at these plants earn much less than their counterparts who produce vehicles that run on fossil fuels.

The Ultium Cells plant in Lordstown, Ohio, which is operated through a joint venture between GM and LG Energy, pays workers a starting salary of $16.50 per hour, significantly lower than the $32.50 per hour they were earning in 2019. This discrepancy in wages puts President Biden in a difficult position. While he has emphasized his support for unions, he is also pushing for the transition to electric vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

UAW President Sean Fain is urging the Biden administration to amend federal incentives for electric vehicle manufacturing to address these wage disparities. In his statement, President Biden called on automakers to keep making electric vehicles but also emphasized the importance of fair wages and the sustainment of the middle class. The UAW, however, has not yet endorsed President Biden’s reelection, which could potentially damage the labor coalition that supported him in 2020.

Former President Donald Trump has openly sought the UAW endorsement, criticizing President Biden’s climate change policies and accusing him of abandoning autoworkers. The outcome of this dispute could have significant implications for both President Biden’s climate change agenda and the political landscape.

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