With the UAW reaching tentative agreements with the Big 3 automakers, the need to center Black workers in this moment is more urgent than ever
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, more than 60 Black local elected officials from across the country called on President Biden to use the full power of the presidency in support of auto workers organizing for good, fair jobs. The majority of Black Americans live and work in the South, ensuring that they have a path to organize and collectively bargain with their employers and within the industry, is an essential part of a thriving multiracial democracy. In an open letter, the group of electeds – supported by Local Progress and Jobs With Justice – highlighted the need to center the reality of Black workers, as the country rapidly transitions into the era of electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing:
“By leveraging the power of federal funds currently fast-tracking industry growth in chorus with the power of auto workers – both those negotiating with the Big 3 and others organizing for the first time throughout the expansive network of global transplant and electric vehicle parts and assembly facilities – you can help right the wrongs of the last century.”
The UAW’s strategic “stand-up strike” targeting the Big 3 is undeniably moving a core part of the industry, but the wins have been more piecemeal than the moment calls for.
With the influx of transplant companies — as well as the expanding auto manufacturing sector that now includes companies building vehicles for public and not just personal use — the Biden Administration must do more to ensure the standards of the current UAW agreements are the norm, not the exception. The UAW has moved the ball significantly in this direction. General Motors agreed to include all of its electric vehicle battery production work within the UAW national master agreement. It remains unclear whether Ford and Stellantis will meet any EV commitments.
“Automakers are moving their EV manufacturing and operations to the South in hopes of exploiting low labor costs and making higher profits. We refuse to stand idly by and let them repeat a cycle that harms Black communities and working families,” said Yterenickia Bell, Councilmember At-Large in Clarkston, GA. “We need leadership at all levels of government – especially local and federal – to ensure we use this EV transition to ensure workers are at the table and can build real power.”
The local electeds – including mayors, county commissioners, city councilmembers, and school board members – represent communities in large cities, suburban towns, and rural communities across the country. All have members in their community that will be impacted by the EV transition.
Biden has already applauded the Big 3’s tentative agreements, and the UAW’s worker-led approach that made it happen. The group is specifically asking for Biden to mediate a series of conversations between workers, their unions, and automakers – helping to facilitate negotiations between the expanding automotive and electric vehicle industry and workers who will make the vehicles of the future possible.