The UAW must adapt to inevitability of electric vehicles

By rough estimates, about 30% less labor is needed to make an electric vehicle than its gas-guzzling counterpart. Advanced robotics and artificial intelligence could cut even more into labor requirements, as new EV factories multiply.



July 18, 2023 - 1:56 PM

Workers assemble R1T trucks at the Rivian electric vehicle plant in Normal, Illinois. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

The United Auto Workers just launched contract negotiations with the Big Three North American automakers, and few will be surprised if the result is a strike.

It almost doesn’t matter if Stellantis, Ford and General Motors make a generous offer, as they did during the 2019 negotiations that ended with a six-week walkout against GM.

For starters, union members are still reeling from a bribery and kickback scandal that resulted in convictions of UAW bosses caught selling out their rank and file for personal gain. The current UAW leadership remains untested, and forcing a strike may be the only way to prove to its membership that it is getting the best possible bargain.

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