WASHINGTON — United Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain said the Detroit-based union is not yet endorsing President Joe Biden for a second term, citing concerns about electric vehicle policies.
In a letter to members seen by Reuters on Wednesday, Fain noted several national unions were quick to endorse Biden but the UAW is not yet doing so.
“The federal government is pouring billions into the electric vehicle transition, with no strings attached and no commitment to workers. 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.
Biden’s campaign did not immediately comment.
The new UAW president was in Washington last week and met with White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients and many lawmakers.
Fain and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday criticized a General Motors joint venture battery plant for paying workers much less than assembly plant employees even though it benefits from hefty U.S. government tax credits.
Workers at the Warren, Ohio, joint venture Ultium Cells plant near Lordstown start at $16.50 an hour rising to $20 an hour after seven years while union workers at a nearby Ohio GM assembly plant that closed in 2019 made $32 an hour or more.
“The situation at Lordstown, and the current state of the EV transition, is unacceptable. We expect action from the people in power to make it right,” Fain said.
Fain said the Ultium plant at full production will receive more than $1.2 billion a year in U.S. battery production tax credits.
The letter noted that the UAW will enter contract talks on behalf of 150,000 workers at General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler-parent Stellantis. Fain said the Detroit Three “are making record profits while workers get left behind. We’ll stand with whoever stands with our members in that fight.”
Fain said the union will be “ready to talk politics once we secure a future for this industry and the workers who make it run.” He said “another Donald Trump presidency would be a disaster. But our members need to see an alternative that delivers real results.”
GM opened with partner LG Energy Solution the Ultium battery manufacturing plant in August 2022 in Ohio; the pair are building two other JV battery plants in Michigan and Tennessee.