By Chris Fry – May 16, 2023
On May 3, newly elected United Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain posted a letter to the union’s 400,000 members that the union will not give its usual endorsement to President Biden, who announced his candidacy on April 23. Fain, who is the first UAW president elected by the membership instead of union leaders, stated that the union needed to see support from Washington in the conversion of the industry to electric vehicles (EV):
“The federal government is pouring billions into the electric vehicle transition, with no strings attached and no commitment to workers,” Fain said in the message obtained by CNBC. “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 that the union prioritizes its members and communities first:
In the letter, Fain singles out the Detroit automakers for recent announcements surrounding plant closures and idling related to EVs that turned workers’ lives “upside down.” Most notably, earlier this year, Stellantis idled a Jeep plant in Illinois, citing the need to cut costs to invest in EVs.
Fain also noted the pay rate at a recently opened Ultium Cells LLC battery plant near Lordstown, Ohio — a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution — compared with that of traditional automotive assembly plants.
Ultium has said hourly workers currently make between $16 and $22 an hour with full benefits, incentives, and tuition assistance. That compares to traditional hourly UAW members that can make upward of $32 an hour at GM plants.
In a speech to the Ultium workers in Lordstown Ohio on May 4 reported by businessjournaldaily.com, Fain condemned the paltry pay increases planned for the workers while this joint venture will get billions in tax incentives from Washington:
He added that UAW workers need support from Washington, D.C., as well, and that it’s unfair that the government is spending billions of dollars in incentives for corporations that pay out “poverty wages.”
Workers, for example, at Ultium stand to receive raises of just 23 cents per hour annually over the next seven years under the current wage structure, he said.
“It’s criminal, some of the things going on,” Fain said...