The prospect of new energy vehicles

      Environmental Protection Agency rules prevent Volkswagen from closing an electric vehicle plant in Tennessee that is under attack by the United Auto Workers union. On December 18, 2023, a sign supporting the United Auto Workers was erected outside the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday finalized new tailpipe emissions rules for American vehicles, the biggest climate rule yet to be passed by the Biden administration. While the rules are looser than last year's original proposal, giving car companies more time to cut emissions, the overall goal is still to halve carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles by 2032. These rules also limit the entry of other toxic pollutants from inside. Internal combustion engines, such as soot and nitrogen oxides.
      Although the rules are technically "technology neutral", meaning car companies can achieve emissions targets by any means they deem appropriate, to achieve these targets companies will almost certainly have to sell more electric vehicles, either in whole or in part (for example, hybrid or plug-in hybrid ). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that electric vehicles will account for 56% (or more) of new vehicle sales in the 2030–2032 model years.
      There will be other regulations, including Department of Transportation fuel economy standards and separate EPA regulations for heavy trucks. But this rule to limit tailpipe emissions has big implications for the climate and the public health of the people who breathe them and suffer as a result.That's because the UAW's first attempt to implement its bold strategy of organizing nonunion auto plants in the United States occurred at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The plant's core products are the only Volkswagen electric vehicles currently produced in the United States, and even with the looser deadlines imposed by the new rules, it would be virtually impossible to close the plant or move electric vehicle production elsewhere. This deprives UAW opponents of a key argument they often make against unionization: that if unionization is successful, the business will lose business or be forced to close.
The UAW pushed last year to slow down the phase-in, but appears satisfied with the final version. The union said in a statement that EPA's "creation of stronger emissions regulations" "clears the way for automakers to implement a full range of vehicle technologies to reduce emissions... We reject alarmist claims that are the solution to the problem." problem." The climate crisis should hurt union jobs. In fact, in this case, it will help those unions work.
The United Auto Workers announced this week that it has filed to run for union elections at Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant, which employs 4,300 hourly workers in its bargaining unit. The plant will begin production of the ID.4, an all-electric compact SUV, from 2022. It is the company's flagship electric vehicle and has been called "the next head of Volkswagen in America."
The ID.4 is a U.S.-made vehicle that is eligible for a $7,500 EV consumer rebate under the domestic purchasing rules of the Inflation Relief Act. The steel, interior trim, electronic components and batteries are made in the USA. More importantly for Volkswagen, the supply chain is already in place.
      “There’s no way they’re going to close this plant,” said Corey Kantor, senior fellow for electric vehicles at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. He noted that the ID.4 accounts for 11.5% of Volkswagen's total U.S. sales, and canceling that model would be bad for business because emissions regulations set to take effect in 2027 would now make Volkswagen unable to comply; rules. Even John Bozzella, president of the Automotive Innovation Alliance, the industry's leading trade group, said in response to the new EPA rule that "the future is electric."  The breakthrough in the South will resonate with other businesses the UAW is trying to organize. Moving production of the ID.4 to another location will be equally difficult. The Chattanooga facility houses a battery assembly plant and battery development laboratory. The company declared Chattanooga as its EV hub in 2019 and didn't begin producing EVs there until three years later. With tailpipe regulations only a few years away, Volkswagen has no time to overhaul its supply chain without a successful union campaign.
      Last month, the Outlook wrote about Volkswagen's UAW campaign, noting that in previous efforts at the plant dating back to 2014, state political officials, outside corporate groups and anti-union plant officials proposed closing the plant. collective bargaining. Managers shared articles about the 1988 shutdown of Volkswagen in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, which was blamed on UAW activity. (Low sales actually led to the plant's closure. This time, the organizers are ready to refute this claim, explaining that Volkswagen has committed to increasing production at the plant. Now they have another argument: New EPA rules make closing the plant nearly impossible. “They don’t do all this training just to pick up and go,” Yolanda Peoples, who works on an engine assembly line, told The Outlook last month.
      Yes, conservative groups are likely to challenge the EPA rule, and if Republicans take power next year, they may try to repeal it. But California's tightening regulations on tailpipe emissions will make such attempts at sabotage more difficult, as the nation's largest state could pass laws setting its own standards and many other states would follow suit. The automotive industry, in its desire for certainty and uniformity, often adheres to these principles. Even if that's not the case, there will be an election in Chattanooga long before the right takes any action on the EPA regulations.  Without their main tool to intimidate workers, union opponents will have to defend their rights by voting against a more diverse workforce than the plant previously had. The results of the two previous votes at VW factories were very close; the virtual guarantee that the plant would continue to prosper regardless of union status was enough to propel it into the lead.This is important for Volkswagen workers, but it is also important for other companies in the industry. The breakthrough in the South will resonate with other businesses the UAW is trying to organize. These include the Mercedes plant in Vance, Alabama, where half of the workers have signed union cards, and the Hyundai, Alabama and Toyota plants in Missouri, where more than 30% of the workers have signed union cards). The union has pledged $40 million over the next two years to organize these and several other auto and battery plants, mostly in the South. Relative to the number of workers targeted, it was the largest amount of funding for a union organizing campaign in US history.
      Hyundai is betting on its electric vehicle strategy. The company's electric vehicles are currently manufactured in South Korea, and an electric vehicle manufacturing plant is currently being built in Georgia. All of these companies must move their EV production here if they want to comply and get on the roads of the United States. If Volkswagen takes the lead in unionizing its electric vehicle factories, it will help other companies follow suit. Anti-union forces know that Volkswagen's election is critical to whether the auto industry can spark a wave of unionization. “The left wants Tennessee so badly because if they get us, the Southeast will fall and it will be game over for the republic,” Tennessee Rep. Scott Sepicki (R) said in a private meeting last year.    It's not just the auto industry that could see a breakthrough in unionization. Courage is contagious. It could disrupt control of other workplaces in the South, as well as the efforts of industrial unions such as the Amazon Teamsters. This could show every union in America that investing in an organization can produce results. As my colleague Harold Meyerson has noted, the UAW's efforts challenge a labor status quo that devalues ​​organizations in favor of protecting the members they still have. US labor laws still pose obstacles to organizing, but the UAW has many factors working in its favor, and EPA regulations add another. This could help create a snowball effect for workers around the world.
      Transportation emits more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than any other sector. EPA regulations are a key way to address this problem. But his incentive to create good, union-paid jobs could help strengthen the Energy Transition coalition. Equally, this may be an important legacy of this endeavor.


Post time: Jul-04-2024