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All The American People Really Want for Christmas is to Build Back Better

By Shari Semelsberger

This week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer insisted that the Senate can pass the Build Back Better Act by Christmas. Enacting Build Back Better, which makes historic investments in American workers, rebuilds our middle class, supports working parents, and improves the lives of every single person in this country, is truly the greatest gift Congress could deliver for the American people this holiday season. But a historic provision that guarantees the growth of good jobs in American auto and battery manufacturing is under attack by the ultra-wealthy and overseas businesses.

TTD has long fought to ensure that federal investments come with the guarantee of good jobs across all sectors of transportation, whether it’s manufacturing, construction, public transportation, or any other sector supported through the dollars of hard-working American taxpayers.  Congress and President Biden offered an historic expansion of this guarantee in the House-passed Build Back Better Act: a $12,500 rebate in electric vehicle (EV) purchase incentives that increase consumer choice, save Americans money on their energy bills, and support good union jobs in the process.

The incentives make working and middle-class families eligible to receive $7,500 for purchasing an electric vehicle.  Critically, there is an additional $4,500 bonus incentive if the vehicle is made in America by union workers, and an additional $500 if the vehicle is using a battery made in the U.S. Altogether, consumers are eligible for a $12,500 rebate when they purchase an electric vehicle made in America by union workers. One of the most aggressive EV incentives in the world, the rebate encourages consumers to purchase a budget-friendly and climate-conscious vehicle that supports good-paying union jobs and manufacturing here at home.

Automakers are making choices now about where and how the vehicles of the next decade will be built. The EV tax credit has a phased-in domestic assembly requirement which signals that the U.S. intends to be a leader in building and deploying cleaner vehicles, while spurring automakers to make good on their commitments to invest in America and in workers.

But, despite all of the obvious benefits for consumers and workers, some corporate and wealthy interests oppose the union-made EV incentive and it could be dropped from the Senate’s final version of the Build Back Better Act.

On average, union workers earn higher wages with better benefits, including better health care coverage and more family-friendly paid leave policies than non-union workers. For every 100 additional jobs in the motor vehicle manufacturing sector, more than 1,400 jobs are supported or created—not only throughout the supply chain, but also in the local economies that those jobs and businesses reinforce. Additionally, union workforces are more stable and experience less turnover. Therefore, the union-made bonus incentivizes the development of a resilient and robust EV supply chain supported by skilled workers.

The U.S. automotive industry, which historically had a strong union workforce, has long been a cornerstone of our economy. Yet real wages across the auto sector have dropped as unionization has fallen—even as productivity has risen. Moreover, our global competitors are leading in the shift to electric vehicles while America lags behind. By 2029, China will have roughly 70% of the world’s lithium-ion battery manufacturing capacity. With just 9% of global battery production capacity, America is at risk of being left behind for good.

The Senate can reverse this trend and strengthen U.S. manufacturing by passing the Build Back Better Act and, as we do in many other sectors of federal investment, tying incentives for electric vehicles to good-paying union jobs and domestic production in America.

The pro-consumer, pro-worker, and pro-America EV incentives in the Build Back Better Act should be the standard for our domestic electric vehicle industry for decades to come.

With the holiday season here, transportation labor stands together with working people and strongly opposes efforts to undermine provisions in the Build Back Better Act that the American people deserve from their government.