A key component of the Biden administration’s efforts to strengthen the economy by reorienting it towards significantly less carbon-intensive activities is expanded U.S. EV battery production. However, a recent Bloomberg story emphasises a potential issue with that method.

According to the article, the United Automobile Workers (UAW) is not pleased with the most recent state of the EV shift as it bargains new contracts with the Detroit Three U.S. manufacturers. And the UAW leadership thinks that it might become a factor in the 2024 Presidential election. The Biden administration’s EV policy has previously been criticised by former President Donald Trump, who said it would “decimate” job possibilities in the auto industry.

Website for the future battery factory Toyota Battery Producing North Carolina (TBMNC)

According to UAW president Shawn Fain, “I have warned most people in Washington, D.C., that they better understand one thing—our workers’ knowledge right now with this EV changeover is not a good point.” Therefore, it will be heard when someone else gathers and declares, “Get ready to look at your jobs disappear.”

The main challenge, according to the paper, is determining whether workers at new battery factories that are being built to support increased EV output—many of which are in pink states—will receive salaries that are comparable to those of assembly-line workers. According to the research, starting pay at the GM-LG Ultium Cells LLC joint venture battery plant in Ohio is $15.50 per hour, which is 50% of the top compensation at assembly plants. Reduced pay may provide as a buffer against rising general battery fees caused by rising raw material costs.

Artist’s impression of the Lordstown, Ohio, battery facility for Ultium Cells

The Chevrolet Bolt EV, Cadillac Lyriq, and GMC Hummer EV are now built at unionised GM assembly plants. The Chevy Silverado EV and GMC Sierra EV pickups will follow soon. The emergence of unionisation has been gradual at the various new battery plants. One of the first less than the UAW aegis may be a planned Ford battery plant in Michigan.

President Biden has stated from the beginning that he wants excellent union work for these new positions in producing EVs. However, vehicle assembly task counts have significantly fallen over the years, and if falling wages at primarily non-unionized battery plants are the trend, it would not be a sufficient replacement for lost assembly jobs.