The United Automobile Workers’ strike against the Big Three manufacturers that began earlier today is exacerbating the most significant political vulnerability of President Joe Biden’s drive to build a clean-energy economy.
A trio of bills Biden passed through Congress during his first two years in the Oval Office has generated a torrent of private-sector investment into clean-energy projects. But so far most of that green investment and the jobs it will create are flowing into red-leaning communities that are generally hostile to both the Democratic Party and labor unions.
Congressional Democrats provided all the votes for the legislation that is catalyzing the rapid growth of the new green economy. But with so many of the new energy projects benefiting red places, many people in progressive circles worry that this historic transformation will fail to generate either sufficient political rewards for the president and congressional Democrats, or as many good-paying, blue-collar jobs as Biden has repeatedly promised.
Fear that the shift to electric vehicles will reduce the number of quality jobs in the auto industry is the backdrop for the strike the UAW launched at midnight today. In both public and private, union officials have made clear their belief that the auto industry is using the technological transition to mask a second, economic, transition. They worry that the companies are using the shift from internal-combustion engines to carbon-free electric vehicles to simultaneously shift more of their operations from high-paying union jobs mostly in northern states to lower-paying, nonunion jobs mostly in southern states. [Continue reading…]