[Make sure to read Joseph Klein’s contributions in Jamie Glazov’s new book: Barack Obama’s True Legacy: How He Transformed America.]
President Biden likes to boast that he is “the most pro-union president in history.” To underscore his claim, the president has decided to join the United Auto Workers picket line in Michigan for a photo op, which will provide him with the opportunity to secure the endorsement of the UAW.
However, Joe Biden has hurt labor in the United States over the years by being a longtime leader in advocating the normalization of trade with China, beginning with his strong support for China’s admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. Labor unions in the manufacturing sector opposed China’s admission to the WTO out of concern that cheaper labor in China would entice U.S. companies to eliminate many well-paying jobs in America and use less expensive Chinese workers instead. The unions were right. Joe Biden got it wrong.
According to a study published in January 2020 by the Economic Policy Institute, “The growth of the U.S. trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2018 was responsible for the loss of 3.7 million U.S. jobs…Three-fourths (75.4%) of the jobs lost between 2001 and 2018 were in manufacturing (2.8 million manufacturing jobs lost due to the growth in the trade deficit with China).”
Donald Trump recognized the massive loss of jobs to China, which exploited and violated the rules of the WTO to its advantage. Mr. Trump confronted the devastating consequences for American workers during his presidency. Although he was unable to stop China’s unfair trade advantages completely, at least he tried to protect U.S. workers’ jobs. Mr. Trump imposed stiff tariffs and other measures that brought China to the negotiating table, resulting in more balanced terms for trade between the two countries.
Joe Biden, on the other hand, has done nothing of the kind. To the contrary, he has long downplayed the threat that China poses to the American economy.
In 2011, for example, during a meeting with Chinese officials in Washington, then-Vice President Biden said that “a rising China is a positive, positive development, not only for China but for America and the world writ large.” He even asserted that trade with China was good for American workers by supposedly supporting “over 500,000 jobs here in the United States” during the previous year, 2010. Joe Biden has a habit of lying and exaggerating. In any case, more than 2.5 million U.S. jobs were displaced by the growing goods trade deficit with China from 2001 through 2010, according to an Economic Policy Institute study published in 2014.
Joe Biden’s mindset during his long government career has been that there was nothing to worry about from continuing to trade freely with China, despite the negative impact on American workers. In the runup to the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden still did not see China as a threat to American prosperity. For example, in 2019, at a campaign event in Iowa, he made fun of the notion that China was eating our lunch and said that the Chinese were “not competition for us.”
As president, Joe Biden has been pushing hard to accelerate the transition from gas-powered vehicles to all electric vehicles while continuing to be played by the Chinese regime.
President Biden’s very aggressive climate initiative regarding electric vehicles will cost many American union workers their good-paying jobs. It takes far less workers to put together the necessary components of electric vehicles than it does the many interconnected parts of gas-powered vehicles. Moreover, China dominates the manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles, meaning even less jobs for American workers.
The UAW itself has warned that the shift to electric vehicles will mean the loss of thousands of good-paying union jobs. The Biden administration’s strict electric vehicle mandates will hasten this job loss. President Biden’s photo op on the UAW picket line will do nothing to change the inevitable outcome of his anti-fossil fuel policies.
The UAW has also criticized the Biden administration’s distribution of subsidies to green energy companies that have not benefited union workers, focusing its displeasure on the adverse impact on American workers from the non-unionized manufacture of electric batteries.
In June, for example, the UAW tweeted, “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.”
UAW President Shawn Fain explained the UAW’s strong opposition to the Biden administration’s subsidy in a statement that the UAW issued on June 23rd. “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,” he said. “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,” Mr. Fain added. “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?”
President Biden is also enriching China by accelerating the transition to electric vehicles before the United States can ramp up its own domestic production of batteries to reach parity with China.
China today is dominating the manufacture of batteries with a 77 percent share of global manufacturing capacity for battery cells as of 2022, according to a report by Visual Capitalist. The United States has a 6 percent share. By 2027, China is still projected to dominate the field with a 69 percent share of global manufacturing capacity.
As Bloomberg put it, “All roads (or at least most) lead to China.”
According to Bloomberg’s analysis, China “has a stranglehold across much of the industry’s supply chain. Having amassed strategic positions at every stage of the battery production process — from mining of raw materials around the globe through to final assembly at home — China has made itself almost indispensable for other countries when it comes to meeting their climate goals.” Moreover, the Bloomberg analysis concluded that “China’s dominance in the global battery supply chain is expected to continue.”
President Biden’s aggressive green energy climate policy, which includes mandating a rapid transition to battery-powered electric vehicles before the United States stands a chance of sharply reducing its dependence on China, is another Biden-led giveaway to China. America’s workers will again be the losers. UAW members have a right to question the bona fides of Joe Biden’s claim to be “the most pro-union president in history” or even whether he is a true friend of American workers at all.