Tensions are running high as auto workers across the United States are concerned over the potential job losses resulting from Joe Biden’s electric vehicle (EV) mandates. Approximately 25,000 workers are striking against major companies like General Motors (GM), Ford, and Stellantis. The strike initiated by the United Auto Workers (UAW) a month ago aims to secure better wages aligned with inflation and assurances that Biden’s aggressive EV push won’t jeopardize their jobs.
In discussions with E&E News, several workers voiced their worries about the shift to EVs and the potential repercussions on their employment.
Whitney Walch, a 28-year-old worker at Stellantis’ Portland Parts Distribution Center, stated, “I think EVs are going to wipe us out.” Highlighting the different components required for traditional vehicles compared to EVs, she added, “… [EVs] don’t need spark plugs, what else, oil filters, we sell a lot of those. If we don’t have all those parts, I feel like we don’t have a lot to do.”
Another worker on the picket line, DeJhon Moore from Wayne, Michigan, expressed he is “good with the regular 87 unleaded,”, saying, “I don’t trust [EVs] to drive long distances, I’d rather just do the regular, go get some fuel, and go about my day.”
The overarching sentiment is one of uncertainty regarding the future of their roles in the auto industry. Cornelius Lincoln, a 49-year-old UAW president for GM’s distribution warehouse in Roanoke, Texas, encapsulated this by saying, “My question is, our security as far as jobs,” and mentioning, “It’s almost inevitable” that auto jobs will be wiped out due to the rise of EVs.
UAW President Shawn Fain pointed out that the prolonged strike is mainly because automakers are rapidly transitioning to EVs in alignment with the Biden administration, without considering the subsequent impact on wages and job security.
The potential dominance of China in the supply chains is another worry for auto workers. China already controls significant portions of the global market for essential materials needed for EVs, such as lithium, manganese, cobalt, graphite, and nickel.
When Biden recently visited the striking auto workers, he refrained from discussing his EV plans. In contrast, President Donald Trump directly addressed the topic when speaking to auto workers in Michigan, warning them about the implications of the EV mandates. He cautioned, “People have no idea how bad this is going to be … you can be loyal to American labor, or you can be loyal to the environmental lunatics, but you can’t really be loyal to both.” Trump emphasized his alignment with the workers, asserting, “… Joe is siding with the left-wing crazies who will destroy automobile manufacturing … I side with the workers of America.”