Unions Say Biden’s Climate Bill Ignores Workers

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The bill may incentivize electric vehicles but it leaves out worker protections.

This story was originally published by The Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Joe Biden’s landmark climate legislation has been “disappointing” and failed to deliver protections to car industry workers confronted by the transition to electric vehicles, according to the head of the US’s leading autoworkers union, which has pointedly withheld is endorsement of the president for next year’s election.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), signed by Biden a year ago this week, has bestowed huge incentives to car companies to manufacture electric vehicles without any accompanying guarantees over worker pay and conditions, Shawn Fain, president of the United Auto Workers (UAW), told the Guardian.

“So far it’s been disappointing. If the IRA continues to bring sweatshops and a continued race to the bottom it will be a tragedy,” Fain said.

“This is our generation’s defining moment with electric vehicles. The government should invest in US manufacturing but money can’t go to companies with no strings attached. Labor needs a seat at the table. There should be labor standards built in, this is the future of the car industry at stake.”

The UAW, which is based in the car-making heartland of Detroit and has about 400,000 members, has so far refused to endorse Biden for next year’s presidential election, a major political headache for a president who has called himself a “union guy” and counts upon organized labor as a key part of his base, particularly in crucial midwest states such as Michigan.

“We aren’t against a green economy—global warming isn’t a hoax, it’s a real thing that you just have to step outside to notice,” said Fain. “But in the transition to EVs the workers can’t be left behind, it needs to be a just transition.

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