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What Could The Advent Of The Electric Car Mean For Union Jobs?

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The internal-combustion engine is a complicated arrangement of moving and non-moving parts, requiring a collection of supporting parts peppered throughout the vehicle in order to function. The electric motor? Not so much. And as the automotive industry embraces electrification, committing to billions in investments to create new hybrid and pure-electric vehicles over the coming years, there is some concern as to what will happen to many of the hourly jobs that currently support ICE-powered automobiles.

That concern is had by UAW Ford Department Vice President Jimmy Settles, who says he’s been speaking with Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett about how to avoid layoffs as the automaker cuts investments in cars and ICEs, and goes about enacting its plan to introduce 13 new electrified vehicles by 2020.

“We’ve been doing our due diligence to find out how much [electrification] means to us,” Settles told Reuters during a phone interview. “We put them on notice early on that we want to be part of this process.”

Settles told Reuters that Ford has so far been in agreement that it’s in both parties’ best interests if the UAW is privy to discussions about how electrification could affect hourly union jobs. He said that overall, Jim Hackett has communicated a desire to find new opportunities to keep union workers on even as electrification starts to reduce the number of hours required to assemble each vehicle.

“The assembly may be different, but [Hackett]’s not looking to eliminate any jobs,” the UAW Ford Department VP said. “He’s been consistent in what he’s saying and I’m optimistic he means it.”

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Aaron Brzozowski is a writer and motoring enthusiast from Detroit with an affinity for '80s German steel. He is not active on the Twitter these days, but you may send him a courier pigeon.

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