The official was granted anonymity to discuss a matter not yet officially announced.
The United Auto Workers and its new leadership have chastised Biden for directing hundreds of billions of dollars toward EV incentives, a policy the union fears could threaten its members’ jobs. Biden’s main Republican rival for the White House, former President Donald Trump, has capitalized on those anxieties to win court support from auto workers.
This leaves Sperling with a full plate. The UAW’s collective bargaining agreement with major Detroit automakers ends Sept. 14. If talks turn sour, a strike could hurt the economy and provide Republicans with new ammunition in the 2024 campaign.
Sperling spent months advising the White House, including overseeing the implementation of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. He has recently begun incorporating engagement with automakers and the UAW into his day-to-day role.
Sperling, 64, served as director of the national economic council and national economic adviser to former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, as well as a member of the presidential task force on the auto industry from 2009 to 2010.
While automakers received a taxpayer-funded bailout in 2009, UAW leadership says workers have made huge sacrifices to help the industry recover from the recession. This legacy colors much of what is driving UAW President Shawn Fain, who has taken union organizing in a more aggressive direction since he won a runoff in March.
The UAW cited its concerns about the employment implications of electric vehicles when it said in May it was not yet ready to back Biden. It represents a flaw for Biden, a self-proclaimed motorist who made himself the most pro-worker president in modern US history.
Biden has pledged to make half of new vehicle sales electric by 2030. But the UAW has pushed Biden to attach more constraints to federal investments to ensure that companies receiving taxpayer-backed subsidies provide sustainable wages and better working conditions. Work. The fledgling US battery manufacturing industry, key to the production of electric vehicles – and to which the Biden administration has earmarked tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies – has little connection to organized labor.
The UAW has often referred to a study conducted in 2018 that suggested moving away from internal combustion engines, which have more parts and require more workers, would cost its members 35,000 jobs. Fain last month criticized the Biden administration for giving Ford a $9.2 billion loan to build three battery factories in Kentucky and Tennessee, where organizing work is more difficult.
« They’re just sounding an alarm, » said Reem Rayef, senior policy adviser to the BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of unions and environmental groups, in an interview about the UAW’s recent public comments. “It’s great to put these works here. I think what we’re hearing from UAW is, ‘That’s great, but it’s not enough.’”