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UAW members concerned with push for EV manufacturing as Big 3 strike continues

Posted at 8:40 AM, Sep 27, 2023

BELLEVILLE, Mich. (WXYZ) — Around 1 p.m. President Biden joined the United Auto Worker picket lines outside the General Motors' Willow Run Redistribution Center in Belleville. The plant was President Biden's only stop in Michigan, where he addressed the union members picketing, fighting against the Big 3 for better wages and benefits for around 150,000 workers.

A UAW member, Angelina Ontiveroz, was present during the presidential visit.

"At first, I was a little skeptical, but when he got out there and spoke - and I believe he is for us working class union workers," said Ontiveroz.

The mother of four has been working at the plant for the last 23 years.

"Big issue with the president and the Democratic party is that they know that pushing the full-on EV vehicles that is going to take away thousands and thousands of our UAW jobs," said Ontiveroz.

The Biden administration wants to reduce carbon emissions by boosting EV sales from the current 7% to 50% by 2030.

"I just have to hope that the Democrats and President Biden figure something out to keep us," said Ontiveroz.

Automotive expert Dave Zoia says EV manufacturing is all about making assembly easier using fewer parts, which would result in job loss for traditional autoworkers.

"The union wants to be able to have access to those jobs. It's a critical juncture for them in terms of getting a slice of that EV business down the line," said Zoia.

"What is the benefit for the US to push for EV manufacturing?" asked 7 Action News.

"If you look at trying to compete as an industry globally, you really have to be in that market or you risk sitting on the sidelines when it does take off," said Zoia.

Meanwhile, another UAW member, Curtis Carford believes this is where the union may be divided. Some see future jobs in EV manufacturing, while others do not.

"I can relate to what Trump stands for, I just don't think he is the right one to deliver the message. I think his day has come and gone, so I will still vote Republican," said Carford.

While President Biden is seen as pro-union and EV manufacturing, UAW president Shaw Fain sees former President and GOP candidate Trump as the opposite.

"I go back to 2015 when he was running the first time, and he was talking about doing rotations and moving our jobs where they pay less money," said Fain.

But University of Michigan's Political Science professor Ken Kollman says President Biden wouldn't have rushed his trip if it wasn't for former president Trump's plans to visit a local auto supplier.

"Negotiating positions don't really change much because these politicians come to town. I don't think this is about the benefit of the UAW worker. This is about the benefit for the candidates as they try to win the presidency," said Kollman.

Former President Trump will be in Clinton Township tomorrow. 7 Action News team will have the full coverage both on-air and online.