Under a provision of the Inflation Reduction Act, some factories making batteries for electric vehicles will each receive more than a billion dollars per year from the U.S. government, with no requirement to pay good wages to production workers. Thanks to the Advanced Manufacturing Production Credit, also called 45X for its section in the Internal Revenue Code, battery companies will receive tax credits that they can use, sell, or cash out.
The 45X program alone will cost taxpayers over $200 billion in the next decade, far more than the $31 billion estimated by Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation. On top of 45X and other federal incentives, factories manufacturing electric vehicles and batteries have also been promised well over $13 billion in state and local economic development incentives in just the past 18 months.
Today, the Supreme Court upended 50 years of precedent to make access to higher education more difficult for students of color. Students of color often come from working class families and rely on higher education to access good jobs and stable careers. Access to higher education is a labor issue.
This latest anti-worker, divide-and-conquer tactic from the Court seeks to block the pathway to good jobs both on and off campuses. The 100,000 UAW members working in higher education, from coast to coast, from the public to the private sector, stand united against this attack on working people.
“Institutionalized and systemic racism continue to disproportionately affect students of color, and affirmative action has been a small yet significant step in addressing these inequalities,” said Woohee Kim, a working member of the Harvard Graduate Students Union, UAW Local 5118. “No Supreme Court decision can erase the racism that permeates into every social fabric of our society. Affirmative action is necessary for a diverse workforce and a multicultural democracy that champions diversity, equity, and justice.”
“In California, the state’s 1995 ban on affirmative action in public education and public sector employment immediately devastated diversity at UC,” said Yunyi Li, Vice President of UAW Local 2865. “It’s a national embarrassment to see the US Supreme Court embrace this massive setback for higher education.”
On this 51st anniversary of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the undersigned 75 gender justice, survivor advocacy, and civil rights organizations write to express our deep disappointment in your administration’s recent announcement that release of the Department of Education’s Title IX final rule is delayed from May 2023 to October 2023.
While we appreciate the significant work your administration has done to undo the Trump administration’s attack on students’ civil rights and to restore the promise of our civil rights laws, it devastates us to maintain that, on this year’s anniversary of Title IX, students are still without adequate civil rights protections against sexual assault, sex-based harassment, and other forms of sex discrimination, in education. For us and the students we represent and serve, any celebration of Title IX feels insincere when schools are still being incentivized to sweep survivors’ victimization under the rug; when LGBTQI+ students are afraid to go to school as themselves or even use the bathroom because of the horrific discrimination they risk; and when pregnant and parenting students still don’t have the support they need to remain in school and succeed. While your administration has proposed Title IX rule changes to address these urgent needs, until these proposed changes are finalized, students will continue to be subjected to the harmful, sexist Trump rule—a rule that was developed with the help of male supremacists. We urge your administration to finalize these much-needed changes before the 2023-2024 school year—or at the very least, ensure a new rule is in effect by January 2024—so that students are not denied equal access to education for yet another school year.
Once finalized, the rule will likely take at least 60 days to come into effect, leaving the Trump rule as law until the effective date. This means students could be without adequate civil rights protections for months into the school year. Also, October, when the rule is currently scheduled to be finalized, falls squarely in the middle of the “red zone”—the period between the start of the fall semester and November during which college students, especially first-year students, are statistically most at risk for experiencing sexual assault. This means that the droves of students seeking support or filing a Title IX complaint for assault they experienced during that period will have to suffer the added trauma of being denied the support they need to continue their education or of having their complaints dismissed for not being “severe” enough – yet another generation of incoming freshman whose entire college experience will have been initiated with regulatorily-mandated “institutional betrayal.”
Currently, students are without adequate civil rights protections. This is not merely a “right now” issue. Since the Trump rule has been in effect for three complete school years, there are students who have gone almost all of their secondary school or college experience under the Trump Title IX rule. This has had disastrous repercussions for student survivors, who are still being forced to weather the emotionally and academically devastating consequences of having their complaints dismissed after mustering the courage to speak up because their victimization isn’t deemed “serious enough;” of having to submit to burdensome and deeply traumatizing grievance procedures, including direct, live cross- examination; and of being denied the supportive measures they need to continue their education in the wake of their victimization. Further, LGBTQI+ students are still without the explicit affirmation of their legal rights as they face a crisis of almost 500 state bills introduced this year alone aimed at depriving them of their rights to learn in safety. Without a strong final rule indicating that anti-LGBTQI+ discrimination is fundamentally inconsistent with Title IX’s mandate, hostile legislators will only be emboldened in their quest to censor and terrorize LGBTQI+ students. Finally, pregnant and parenting students are still without the support they need to combat the immense pressure they face to drop classes or withdraw from school entirely from unsupportive educators; this support is even more urgent in the wake of reproductive health restrictions around the country following the Supreme Court’s evisceration of the constitutional right to abortion. Students need a strong final Title IX rule to combat the significant barriers they face to succeeding in and completing their education.
After over 50 years of Title IX, we still have not actualized Title IX’s full potential. As tired as we are of repeating this, students are even more exhausted. Students are speaking up about the absolutely demoralizing experience of losing out on their education because the federal government has not yet made good on its promise to protect them from sex discrimination at school. Below are real-life examples of the harm created by the Trump Title IX rule on student survivors:
- One college student survivor dropped out of school in direct response to how re-traumatizing her Title IX process and hearing was. First, she was directed to report her sexual assault to the school’s defense Then, she was not notified until the day before her hearing that it was scheduled for the day before classes started. Upon requesting accommodations to be able to participate virtually due to the last-minute notice, the school’s only response was “it would be more impactful if you show up in person.” During the nine-hour hearing, the cross-examination from her abuser’s lawyer included numerous victim-blaming and traumatizing questions intended to intimidate her. At the end of the hearing, the school’s decision-makers immediately dismissed her report based on victim-blaming “character evidence” against her. Due to her school’s failure to offer support and resources for her throughout the process and the deeply re-traumatizing cross-examination required by the Trump Title IX rule, she dropped out of school the next day.
- A college student survivor who reported sexual harassment and assault was ignored by her school until she emailed the Title IX office to report that she was concerned for her physical safety. Without replying to her email, the school proceeded to contact her emergency contact without her consent to inform them of a threat to her physical safety; in addition, campus public safety entered the survivor’s dorm room in the middle of the night with no warning to take her to a safe She was ultimately sent away from college altogether per the recommendation of the Title IX office and missed classes while waiting at home for the school to remove her abuser from campus. After forcibly removing her from campus, the school did not investigate the harassment or help her catch up on the coursework she missed. Due to her school’s prioritization of her abuser’s rights over hers in an attempt to comply with the Trump rule, she had her education further interrupted and had to delay her graduation date.
- One university recently received six complaints in the same semester alleging sexual assault and sexual harassment by the same respondent, but the university’s Title IX office forced the student survivors to file separate complaints, which, seemingly intentionally, obscured the fact that the respondent was a serial abuser. The Title IX office then dismissed all six complaints without engaging in any investigation. In its correspondence to one survivor regarding the dismissed complaint, the university’s Title IX office asserted that consent given under threat of physical force in fact fell under the university’s definition of “affirmative consent,” a definition and investigatory requirement procedure that was altered by the university in recent years to comply with the Trump rule.
- A Title IX office refused a survivor’s request for informal resolution due to the “seriousness of the allegations.” Threatened with a retaliatory Title IX case against her, which was spurious on its face, the survivor was forced to go through with a formal Title IX investigation. She was so traumatized that she broke down crying several times during the initial interview, and the Title IX officer almost had to reschedule it. However, when the survivor’s abusive former partner requested an informal resolution for his retaliatory complaint against her, the University’s Title IX office pressured the survivor to drop her complaint against him by telling her that she had to choose between receiving her diploma and “getting justice.” Equating a retaliatory cross- complaint with serious and egregious claims of domestic violence and sexual harm appeared to be part of the University’s attempt to comply with the Trump rule’s call to use Title IX as a tool to protect harmers from the claims of victims and to chill a victim’s pursuit of Title IX processes on campus.
- A graduate school survivor’s favorable outcome was overturned when the respondent’s attorney intimidated the survivor with almost 300 questions during a five-hour hearing in an effort to exhaust her and forcefully create an opportunity to claim the survivor impeached herself. The respondent’s attorney was able to do this by taking advantage of the rigorous and nearly unfettered live cross-examination required by the Trump rule without the attendant protections against examination-abuse. As a result of her assault, this harassing line of cross-examination in her Title IX process, and out of fear for her physical safety, she dropped out of her graduate school program.
As demonstrated by these students’ experiences, waiting until October to finalize the Title IX rule comes with a terrible cost. Students need these changes now: any further delay will leave students without adequate civil rights protections for the 2023-2024 school year.
Yesterday, the federal government announced a massive $9.2 billion giveaway loan to Ford Motor Co. through the Department of Energy to create 7,500 low-road jobs with no consideration for wages, working conditions, union rights or retirement security. This handout may further enrich Ford shareholders, but it shortchanges communities and the UAW members who produce Ford’s vehicles, powertrains and record-breaking profits.
UAW President Shawn Fain’s response below:
“We have been absolutely clear that the switch to electric engine jobs, battery production and other EV manufacturing cannot become a race to the bottom. Not only is the federal government not using its power to turn the tide – they’re actively funding the race to the bottom with billions in public money.
“These companies are extremely profitable and will continue to make money hand over fist whether they’re selling combustion engines or EVs. Yet the workers get a smaller and smaller piece of the pie. Why is Joe Biden’s administration facilitating this corporate greed with taxpayer money?
“In the past five years, workers who build GM products in Lordstown, Ohio, have had their lives turned upside down as they were forced to retire, quit or uproot their families and move all over the United States when GM closed their plants despite massive profits. Their jobs were replaced in GM’s new joint-venture battery facility with jobs that pay half of what workers made at the previous Lordstown plant. Not only is the White House refusing to right this wrong, they’re giving Ford $9.2 billion to create the same low-road jobs in Kentucky and Tennessee.
“The last time the federal government gave the Big Three billions of dollars, the companies did the exact same thing: slash wages, cut jobs, and undermine the industry that for generations created the best jobs for working families in this country. Autoworkers and our families took the hit in 2009 in the name of saving the industry. We were never made whole, and it’s an absolute shame to see another Democratic administration doubling down on a taxpayer-funded corporate giveaway.”
Two big Kansas City winners were honored at the White House on Monday.
Along with the Super Bowl LVII Champion Kansas City Chiefs, President Joe Biden welcomed brand-new UAW member Hafsa Sheikh-Hussein. She was there representing over 400 workers at the Yanfeng plant outside Kansas City in Riverside, MO., who voted to join UAW Local 710 last month.
Yanfeng workers organized to put an end to low pay, lack of seniority rights, understaffed shifts, and little to no work-life balance at the facility.
“Winning our union was a big deal and getting to celebrate it with the Super Bowl champions made it even more special,” said Sheikh-Hussein, who works as a quality technician at Yanfeng in Riverside. “Just like the Chiefs’ victory lifted up Kansas City, the improvements we win in a first contract are going to make life better for our whole community.”
Biden honored the Chiefs in a ceremony on the White House lawn and invited both Sheikh-Hussein and UAW Region 4 Director Brandon Campbell.
“During the ceremony, the Chiefs talked about the adversity they faced during the season,” said Director Campbell. “How it was unity that allowed them to rise above it—unity and teamwork. That’s so true in our world too. The Yanfeng workers won big because they were united.”
After the event, both Campbell and Sheik-Hussein met briefly with the President. “I was shaking his hand,” Sheikh-Hussein said, “and when I told him I was UAW, his face lit up and his handshake got even stronger.”
“I’ve been with the UAW my whole life,” the President responded. “[The UAW was] the first union to endorse me when I was a 29-year-old kid running for the Senate.”
“Hafsa and Yanfeng workers won big, and it’s great that President Biden honored their victory. But we could have some big losses in the Midwest if our elected officials don’t fight for strong EV job protections and also to keep good jobs at Master Lock in Milwaukee, Oshkosh Truck and Stellantis in Belvidere,” Director Campbell said, referring to three UAW worksites currently under threat of major job loss.
With the victory at Yanfeng in Riverside, UAW members have now organized six Yanfeng plants in North America. Over 1,000 UAW members work at the supplier in Highland Park, Romulus, and Monroe, Michigan, Mississauga, Ontario, McCalla, Alabama, and at Riverside. The Riverside plant produces parts for the General Motors Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, represented by UAW Local 31.
“While Corporate America cheers on another Supreme Court attack on workers’ rights, this ruling achieves nothing that would undermine the fundamental right to strike,” said UAW President Shawn Fain. “Our members’ fight for justice on and off the job won’t be slowed by a court ruling or by corporate greed. While we’re disappointed to see the US Supreme Court once again try to legislate away the rights of working-class Americans, the UAW remains ready to take action, when necessary, to raise the standard for workers everywhere.”
Greetings Brothers and Sisters,
Each year, April 28th marks the legislative anniversary of the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970. Since 1989 the AFL-CIO, affiliated unions and labor organizations have designated April 28 as Worker Memorial Day, also known as the day of mourning for workers who have tragically perished in the workplace. On this solemn day, we pause and reflect on workplace tragedies that have taken the lives of our sisters and brothers at worksites across the country and around the world.
In the 53 years since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, it is estimated that over 700,000 lives have been saved through workplace safety standards and hard-won negotiated worker protections. In fact, through collective bargaining agreements, worker advocacy groups and established OSHA standards, workplace fatalities have been reduced from nearly 38 per day or 14,000 each year before OSHA was enacted. Workplace fatalities have been reduced to 14 per day or 5,000 per year in recent years. While a 62% reduction in fatalities is noteworthy, there are still an unacceptable number of deaths occurring at worksites every day. Tragically, five of our UAW family lost their lives in workplace accidents in 2022. Their deaths were unacceptable and preventable. We mourn their loss and grieve deeply for their loved ones left behind.
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 5,190 workplace fatalities in the past year, an additional 2.6 million workplace injuries and illnesses were also reported, an alarming number that is most certainly higher considering injuries and illnesses are historically under-reported. Further, it is estimated that 50,000 workers perish each year because of long-term chemical or environmental exposure. Most have either retired or left their place of employment only to succumb to a chronic long-term illness related to their work environment.
The UAW has a proud history of being at the forefront and in the fight for improved safety standards in not only our represented workplaces, but all worksites across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and beyond. We have proven time and again that the fight for worker’s rights and safe jobs are best won through the collective bargaining and the legislative process. UAW negotiated health and safety contract language is often referred to as the industry-leading standard. Our legacy of winning significant protections for our members over many decades is recognized throughout the world.
While we are proud of our accomplishments of winning significant life-saving protections for our members through research, information, technology and education, we must remain vigilant in protecting what has been won, while demanding companies and government agencies expand common sense effective safety practices. Decades of gains in worker protections can be lost if they are not protected in the workplace and in the legislative halls of congress.
Many safety standards established and expanded during the Obama administration were subsequently repealed or rescinded via the Congressional Review Act, funding reductions or by executive order under the Trump administration. GOP-led congressional reviews and anti-worker Presidential executive orders were issued at an alarming rate. Under the previous administration in Washington, D.C., toxic substance protections, whistleblower protections, accurate record keeping, and environmental health and safety regulations were diminished or eliminated putting workers at risk of premature death, injury or illness from unnecessary exposures. Fortunately, the Biden administration has taken action to restore many of the worker protections that were eliminated and have restored or increased funding for worker training programs, compliance and enforcement agents, and health and safety regulations. President Biden has appointed and nominated strong pro-worker, pro-union candidates who advocate for worker safety to lead the Department of Labor’s worker protection programs such as outgoing Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and Deputy Secretary of Labor (and current nominee for Secretary of Labor) Julie Su.
As we take the time to honor those who have lost their lives in workplace tragedies or died pre-maturely from workplace exposures, let us all double our efforts to ensure every sister and brother returns home to their loved ones at the end of their workday. Whether you are a member working in higher education, manufacturing, gaming, health services, or one of the many other sectors of our increasingly diverse union, leaving our place of employment and returning home safely from work each day is a right and expectation we all demand. We must remain steadfast in protecting it. Speak up and speak out on unsafe conditions in your workplace. Our lives and the lives of our sisters and brothers in this great union depend on it.
UAW International Executive Board