UAW Backs "Strong" Emissions Standards After All… For A Price

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Last week I wondered aloud about where the UAW stands on fuel economy, inspired by the union’s apparent flip-flopping between supporting the companies that employ its workers and backing its environmental allies on the left with talk of its commitment to green jobs. And after expressing concern about proposed CAFE increases, it seems the UAW is flopping back towards the environmentalist side of the equation, joining the so-called “Blue-Green Coalition” of labor leaders and environmental groups in expressing its vague support for “strong” emissions standards in a letter to President Obama [ PDF]. But with CAFE negotiations coming down to within 5 MPG or so of a final “number” for the 2052 standard, the letter’s lack of commitment means it’s still not clear where the UAW comes down in the policy debate. So instead of highlighting the union’s commitment to the environment, the letter ends up serving as a window into the UAW’s cynical, yet self-deluding side.

If there’s a significant sentence anywhere in the entire letter, it’s “we request your continuing support for federal efforts to assist the auto industry retool to meet demand for cleaner, more efficient cars.” Having pointed to the ATVM Loan program, which sent out some $25b in loans in a manner that inspired charges of lax oversight and political patronage, the BlueGreen Alliance makes it clear that it’s not lobbying for any specific CAFE standard, but rather a handout whatever the standard eventually becomes. And here’s where the argument falls apart: not only did ATVM become a black eye for the government, but the “evidence” that the UAW cites for a connection between green technology and union jobs is falling apart. After all, GM assembles the battery for its green-car-icon Chevy Volt out of Korean-made battery cells, using non-union labor. The EV sector is dependent on suppliers in Japan and Korea for both batteries and components like the Chevy Volt’s transmission, while Ford’s forthcoming Focus EV was developed almost entirely by the Austrian-Canadian supplier Magna International. Arguing that more public money will translate into UAW-represented “green jobs” is a mirage, and environmental firms should be ashamed to be lending their moral authority (with those who buy into it) to what amounts to a campaign for union handouts.

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  • NormSV650 NormSV650 on Jul 19, 2011

    When everything funded by this administration goes awry and your questioning it? It's just politics as usual in the U$.

    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Jul 19, 2011

      +1! And that is a damn shame. With them, it's all about what can America do for the unions instead of what can the unions do for America. Bargaining their memberships out a job or bargaining their employers into bankruptcy does not bode well for America. Politics as usual.

  • Stuki Stuki on Jul 19, 2011

    Competitively exposed unions have long since shrank to the point where they cannot rely on promises of their memberships' voting to sway policy their way. Instead, they have to reach out and build coalitions. With people who can fairly easily be convinced that whether theft and coercion is OK, depends on who is doing it. And what easier band of marks could they possibly find, than those gullible enough to believe CAFE mileage standards waay out in the future has any practical relevance whatsoever. After all, seemingly most of that same sociographic, genuinely believes Cuba has a good health care "system", and are perfectly willing to flush America down the toilet, based on little more than blind faith in myths like that.

  • FreedMike I guess it's good to hear they finally made the third row livable - the one on the old RX was a joke - but, man, is this generic-looking.
  • Alan I read the front wheels are driven by the engine and the rear wheels by electric in the hybrid. I also find it odd it isn't offered as the 2.4 hybrid with 250kw on tap.
  • KOKing That base hybrid system must be something other than the normal Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive, since that uses the two electric motors as the ('CVT') transmission without a separate transmission of any kind.
  • Analoggrotto Too much of the exterior is shared with the Grand Highlander. Toyota/Lexus is clearly over extended here as this was rushed in direct response to the Kia Telluride which has decimated RX sales. Lexus was not such a major offender of just changing the front and rear end caps on a lesser Toyota model (this worked for LX / Land Cruiser as the latter is already expensive) but for such a mass market vehicle, buyers will notice and may just go to Toyota (or Kia) for their big SUV.
  • Crtfour I'm a BOF SUV fan. In my opinion it's certainly not a looker (but what is these days). But it does look the part and should be great off road. Plus kudos to Toyota for retaining actual shift levers. So I give it a thumbs up.