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Automakers Don’t Need to Choose Between Labor and Climate

Corporations say they can’t meet the Uaw’s demands while also transitioning to electric vehicles. The truth is they just need to fork over the money. Da The Nation.

The United Auto Workers are entering their third week of the first-ever simultaneous strike against the three big automakers, and for the first time, a sitting US president, Joe Biden, joined them on the picket line. Executives at General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis are pushing back on worker demands by invoking the climate crisis. They say it is impossible to give workers what they want while also making a swift transition to manufacturing electric vehicles.

On September 14, Ford’s CEO Jim Farley said that the union’s demands—higher wages, better hours, an end to tiered employment, and guaranteed job security in a green energy transition—could send the company into bankruptcy. Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, said that the union’s demands are “unrealistic” and would make GM less competitive. Major outlets have echoed these claims, even arguing that the UAW’s strike will harm the environment by stalling EV production.

People with experience in government seem to be on their side. In 2009, Steve Rattner, President Barack Obama’s former “car czar” and the original negotiator of the post-2008 GM bankruptcy deal, helped the UAW to accept $11 billion in cuts to wages and benefits. Now, Rattner claims that workers’ demands are overly audacious and could cause Democrats to lose the next presidential election.

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