Several House Democrats visited United Auto Workers (UAW) picket lines over the weekend after voting down a bill that ostensibly would serve the interests of the union’s striking workers by reining in the Biden administration’s electric vehicle (EV) push.
Democratic Reps. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries all joined striking UAW workers on the picket lines in shows of solidarity after voting against the Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act on Thursday, which would “amend the Clean Air Act to prevent the elimination of the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles.” EVs are at the center of the labor dispute, and UAW leadership has expressed concerns that long-term increases in EV production will disadvantage UAW workers.
The UAW said in an official statement that it “opposes this bill because union workers are not political pawns for the culture war” and stating that supporters of the bill are “pandering to the most extreme MAGA fringe.” A spokesperson for Tlaib referred the Daily Caller News Foundation to this statement when reached for comment.
“This statement seems to contradict what (UAW President) Shawn Fain says,” Diana Furchtgott-Roth, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Energy, Climate and Environment, told the DCNF. “Maybe the UAW does not want to admit that the policy is beneficial to them, because the policy may encourage members to vote for Republicans,” she said of the union’s opposition to the bill, introduced by Republican Pennsylvania Rep. John Joyce and which passed the House by a 222-190 vote, with 22 representatives not voting. (RELATED: Dem Senate Candidate Who Signed NDA Covering CCP-Linked EV Battery Maker Votes Down Bill To Block Gas Car Bans)
This isn’t good news for Bidenhttps://t.co/PWkwbwJ5zp
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The Biden administration and many Democrats have supported policies that subsidize EV production, as well as actions that restrict the production of internal combustion engine vehicles. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed tailpipe emissions standards in April which would result in manufacturers having their fleets consist of 67% EVs by model year 2032, the Inflation Reduction Act and bipartisan infrastructure law allocate billions of dollars to further subsidize EVs and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed updates to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards in July that amount to “an EV mandate,” Dan Kish, senior fellow for the Institute for Energy Research, told the DCNF at the time.
“The UAW is looking towards policies that mitigate the pain, such as assurances by automakers that workers won’t be obliged to accept jobs in other factories to make EV parts (one of the demands in the current strike),” Sean Higgins, a research fellow for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told the DCNF. “The UAW wants to maintain good terms with the current administration and its democratic allies on Capitol Hill on other issues, so it is not willing to cause friction with them by supporting a GOP-sponsored bill.”
The union’s statement seems to be at odds with many public statements by UAW President Shawn Fain, who has ripped the Biden administration’s EV policies and subsidies on multiple occasions. Before the strike started last week, Fain had withheld an endorsement of President Joe Biden’s 2024 reelection campaign, largely because of the EV issue, even though the UAW is typically a stalwart supporter of Democratic candidates.
The UAW made over $1 million dollars in campaign contributions in the 2022 election cycle, with about 1% of those funds going to Republican candidates, according to data from Open Secrets.
Relative to internal combustion engine vehicles, EVs require fewer workers to manufacture and assemble, and the “Big Three” manufacturers have said that the EV transition limits the capital that they are available to offer the striking workers in a new contract, according to NPR.
The UAW, the White House, and the offices of Jeffries, Kaptur and Slotkin all did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include comment from Sean Higgins, a research fellow for the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
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