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Biden Strengthens Labor Backing in Illinois

President Biden showed his support for the United Automobile Workers union during his visit to Illinois, celebrating a major labor deal that saved a Stellantis manufacturing plant and emphasizing the importance of union support.

During the event, President Biden highlighted the recent agreement reached between the union and major automakers, which led to pay raises and the reopening of the Belvidere plant in Illinois.

In his speech, President Biden also emphasized the need for clean energy, addressing concerns from workers about the potential impact of his administration’s climate change agenda on their jobs. He also drew a contrast with former President Trump, highlighting the job losses during the previous administration and his commitment to supporting the future of electric vehicles in the U.S.

President Biden criticized his predecessor’s approach to the auto industry, pointing out the factory closures and job losses that occurred during the previous administration. He also emphasized the record gains and job commitments achieved through the recent labor agreements.

During the Trump administration, the National Labor Relations Board took pro-corporate stances and was perceived as hostile to unions, in contrast to President Biden’s support for union rights and his historic appearance on a picket line.

The Biden administration has proposed ambitious climate regulations, including a significant increase in the production of all-electric vehicles by 2032. While these regulations aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there are concerns about the potential impact on autoworkers, as electric vehicle production requires fewer laborers and new manufacturing plants may be located in states with anti-union policies.

During his visit, President Biden praised union leaders, including Shawn Fain, the president of the U.A.W., for their efforts in saving the automobile industry. However, there was no endorsement announced from the U.A.W., and concerns about the transition to electric vehicles were raised by the union, seeking clear support from the administration.

The relationship between President Biden and the U.A.W. changed following his support for striking autoworkers in Michigan and his direct involvement in the labor negotiations, indicating a shift in the administration’s approach to labor issues.

Experts have highlighted the need for new factories to produce electric vehicle batteries, but also the potential impact on traditional auto parts suppliers and the retraining of assembly workers as the industry transitions to electric vehicles.

Some workers, like Kristine Lynn, who worked at the Belvidere plant, expressed mixed emotions about the transition to clean energy and electric vehicles, acknowledging the uncertainty and changes they may face in their roles.

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