The strike by the UAW against the Big Three auto companies has brought together autoworkers and climate advocates around the demand for a just transition to a climate-safe auto industry. But what is a just transition? Why is a just transition necessary? And how could a just transition for auto workers be achieved?
A new Commentary by LNS co-founder and senior advisor Jeremy Brecher called “Just Transition for Auto Workers: The Answer to Auto’s Race to the Bottom” provides an in-depth look at the “race to the bottom” in worker conditions that is currently being fomented by the Big Three. And it lays out concrete proposals for protecting auto workers in the transition to electric vehicle transition. The Commentary concludes:
These just transition proposals are not “pie in the sky.” They grow out of existing programs and proposals of the UAW, the climate movement, federal agencies, and state legislators. As President Biden’s unprecedented decision to join the UAW picket line indicates, they come at a time when the government and the auto companies are most vulnerable to pressure to do the right thing. They will not in themselves turn the auto plants into a utopia. But they can play a significant role in halting and even reversing the race to the bottom that is already underway in the auto industry. They can promote both climate protection and a decent future for auto workers. And they can provide a program around which auto workers, climate protectors, and advocates for the public interest can join forces.