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GM strike highlights how switch to electric cars jeopardizes future jobs



One of the biggest unknowns in the ongoing labor negotiations between the United Automobile Workers Union and General Motors is not related to pay or benefits.

Electric vehicles are shutting down the industry, saving some jobs as factories are rebuilt to build zero. vehicles with emissions but cost many times more in the long run. This is a major concern for union leaders as they negotiate a new labor deal for 158,000 combined workers at three Detroit auto manufacturers: Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler.

GM CEO Mary Bar announced plans last November to cut up to 14,000 jobs, close five plants in North America by the end of this year and relocate the company's workforce and model to build more electric and autonomous vehicles .

"We are transforming our workforce through rental and executive reductions as we move toward an all-electric future," she told investors, outlining the company's new strategy in January. "These actions also help us fund the EV development race. and AV technologies as automakers and technology companies compete to unlock new and potentially lucrative revenue streams through mobility services. "

About 48,000 GM manufacturers are on strike right now as the UAW negotiates a new employment contract that could save some of these factories from closure.

Not only is the industry struggling with declining consumer demand for cars, its move to EVs will cost even more jobs. they are simply easier to build and require less engineless parts, and UAW expects moving away from gas engines could cut 35,000 jobs in the next few years, according to a study last year by the union. This means that the union is essentially negotiating new products, which could ultimately mean fewer jobs for its members.

"EV powertrains are simpler than internal combustion engines," UAW research director Jennifer Kelly said during a March conference to discuss upcoming contract talks with GM, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler. "Simplicity could reduce manpower and thus jobs related to vehicle production."

Internal combustion engines can require thousands of parts, while electric "engines" and drive wheels require only a few hundred, according to the study. Fewer parts mean fewer jobs to assemble workers.

The situation is a modern paradox in production. In order to create "jobs of the future", as UAW leaders refer to them, GM and other automakers are expected to have to cut or change many of the existing ones today.

New jobs are likely to pay more than those who replace, but require more skilled workers and additional training from traditional assembly work, something the union has said its members are ready and willing to do.

"I will tell you that UAW is excited to be a part of the developing workforce: EV propulsion and energy storage; autonomous vehicles and related components, new mobility companies and joint ventures, "UAW President Gary Jones said when opening negotiations with GM in July.

Whether automakers and UAW are ready for such a change in production can be determined last year, the automaker announced plans to halt production and potentially shut down up to four US assembly plants, including major assembly plants in Ohio and Michigan,

As part of a potential deal with the union, the company told union negotiators that it could produce an all-electric pickup to the Detroit-Hamtramk Assembly in Michigan and production of all-electric battery cells vehicles in or near the Lordstown assembly in Ohio, according to a person familiar with the conversations.The Lordstown plant closed in March and Detroit-Hamtramck is scheduled to halt production in January.

The new job, according to details of a potential union deal released by GM on September 1

5, would help add 5,400 new jobs to the union workforce over the next four years – far from the amount of jobs impacted by the the car manufacturer's plans.

"I've been in electric vehicle factories, they don't take that many assembly workers," said Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst at Autotrader who visited the Audi E-Tron plant. in Belgium last year. "It's very quiet. There aren't many people in the factory because basically you build the vehicle, then slide the battery under the floor in their case and there are far fewer parts."

All-electric pickup and battery production are part of GM's plan to introduce 20 new, all-electric models by 2023, eventually phasing out gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Not only GM makes these movements.

Job losses would expire. in other countries. Even a moderate switch to electric mobility could leave up to 7,530 Germans unemployed by 2030, even after the creation of 25,000 new jobs, the German Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering said in a study last year.

Ford CEO Jim Hackett, in discussing Electric Investor Engines in 2017, told investors that switching to electric could shorten the time it takes to build an electric car by 30%, compared to conventional vehicles, according to Reuters.

Hyundai Automobile Union boss Ha Bo-young also said, "There are no fleshly words when he told Reuters last year that the company's switch to electric could cut jobs in the Korean automaker by up to 70%.

"Electric cars are disasters. They are evil. We are very nervous," he said at the time.


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