Previously, the UAW, which represents around 391,000 members across several industries, most prominently auto workers, had agitated for federal EV tax incentives to be for only union-made EVs, something which made foreign automakers mad because it may have been a competitive disadvantage, because only the Big Three are unionized in the U.S. That particular provision didn’t pass, in any case, though one that did as part of the Inflation Reduction Act was that EVs that get the tax credits will have to be American made.
Shortly before the IRA was finally enacted in August, the UAW, nonetheless, released a statement saying that it is good.
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is an important bill for our country and working families. It makes critical investments in U.S manufacturing to help ensure new vehicles and emerging technologies and are built in America for decades to come, lowers the costs of life-saving drugs and health care insurance, tackles climate change in a meaningful way, and reduces the deficit.
That, however, was before a changing of the guard at the top of the UAW, with Shawn Fain being sworn in as the new UAW president in March, having ousted incumbent Ray Curry earlier this year in an election. Fain ran for the UAW presidency on a platform of shaking things up and challenging the powers that be, most immediately automakers ahead of contract negotiations this summer.
But also, apparently, within the Democratic establishment as well. From Reuters on Wednesday:
United Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain said the Detroit-based union is not yet endorsing President Joe Biden for a second term, citing concerns about electric vehicle policies.
In a letter to members seen by Reuters on Wednesday, Fain noted several national unions were quick to endorse Biden but the UAW is not yet doing so.
“The federal government is pouring billions into the electric vehicle transition, with no strings attached and no commitment to workers. The EV transition is at serious risk of becoming a race to the bottom. We want to see national leadership have our back on this before we make any commitments,” Fain said.
The letter noted that the UAW will enter contract talks on behalf of 150,000 workers at General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler-parent Stellantis. Fain said the Detroit Three “are making record profits while workers get left behind. We’ll stand with whoever stands with our members in that fight.”
Fain said the union will be “ready to talk politics once we secure a future for this industry and the workers who make it run.” He said “another Donald Trump presidency would be a disaster. But our members need to see an alternative that delivers real results.”
Fain’s reference to other unions endorsing Biden soon after he announced his run for reelection was a shot at SEIU, which has around two million members and endorsed, and IBEW, which has around 775,000 members and endorsed, in moves that felt pretty pro forma.
If and when Joe Biden wins the Democratic primary to run for reelection again, the UAW will likely endorse him as well, if not before. Not doing so right off the bat at least gives the UAW a little more leverage, and possibly even a bigger voice for the rank-and-file, or at least one can dream. That’s what Fain said he was going to do, in any case.