UAW wants EPA to soften vehicle emissions plan

WASHINGTON, July 7 (Reuters) – The United Auto Workers union on Friday called on the Biden administration to soften its proposed vehicle emissions cuts that would require 67% of new vehicles to be electric by 2032.

The UAW, which represents workers at General Motors (GM.N), Ford Motor (F.N) and Chrysler parent Stellantis (STLAM.MI), said the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed standards should be revised to “better reflect the feasibility of compliance so that the projected adoption of (zero emission vehicles) is set to feasible levels, increases stringency more gradually, and occurs over a greater period of time.”

The comments come before the UAW is set to open contract talks with the Detroit Three automakers before current four-year contracts expire in September.

The UAW said the “EPA must recognize that the current domestic auto assembly footprint is heavily weighted towards the profitable light-duty truck and SUVs that are tasked with funding the EV transition.” Last year, nearly 60% of all vehicles produced by unionized automakers in the United States were pickups or SUVs.

“We fear the proposed standards are premature and risk disrupting the market that will make the EV transition possible,” the UAW said. “We urge EPA to continue to work with all key stakeholders to ensure the new rules do not disproportionately impact domestic union auto production.”

A group representing major automakers including the Detroit Three called for significantly softening requirements, calling the EPA proposal “neither reasonable nor achievable.” Toyota Motor (7203.T) on Friday called the EPA proposal stringency requirements “extreme and outside historical norms.”

Last month, UAW President Shawn Fain harshly criticized the U.S. Energy Department plan to lend $9.2 billion to a joint venture of Ford and South Korea’s SK On to build three U.S. battery plants.

Fain called the loan a massive “giveaway” with “no consideration for wages, working conditions, union rights or retirement security” that would help create low-paying jobs, adding, “Why is Joe Biden’s administration facilitating this corporate greed with taxpayer money?”

The UAW in May said it was not yet endorsing Biden for reelection, citing his electric vehicle policies.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Reese and Mark Porter