by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If you want to understand why the United Auto Workers union is striking now, look at the three factories it chose to target for its first wave shutdowns.
The General Motors plant in Wentzville, Missouri, makes the Chevy Colorado and the GMC Savana. The Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan, makes Ford Rangers and Ford Broncos. And the Stellantis plant in Toledo, Ohio, makes Jeep Wranglers and Jeep Gladiators.
What do all these vehicles have in common? Unlike electric vehicles that lose money, these vehicles are among the Big Three’s most profitable products. They are also exactly the type of vehicle President Joe Biden wants to eliminate by 2032, when his new regulations mandate that two-thirds of all cars sold in the United States must be EVs.
Not only do EVs have fewer parts than gasoline models, which means fewer jobs for auto workers, but every plant that produces mufflers, catalytic converters, and fuel injectors will have to shutter, either permanently or long enough for a complete overhaul to make EV parts.
Biden’s obsession with EVs has essentially made all UAW-organized factories in the Midwest obsolete. Why would a car company invest there when they could build a new factory in a state where workers aren’t forced to join unions?
That is why the union is asking for not just a 40% pay raise but also the right to strike to block future plant shutdowns that everyone knows are coming because of Bidenomics. Alternatively, the UAW is asking for guaranteed compensation for all workers whenever a plant is shut down.
The union also wants pay to be raised automatically to keep pace with inflation, which is an understandable request given how abominably Biden’s policies have stoked price hikes. Workers in every industry have seen their real wages and purchasing power fall. Who wouldn’t want protection from that?