“Alabama is full steam ahead on electric,” said one interviewee on a recent report from NPR’s The Indicator. The South is “becoming the new Detroit,” claimed another. Alabama, along with Georgia, Tennessee, and the Carolinas, account for dozens of new electric vehicle and battery manufacturing plants announced in the last 18 months. “If it’s gotta be in the United States, it’s going to be in the South,” the show contends. It’s a quick 9-minute segment, go give it a listen.
The Biden administration’s 2022 Inflation Reduction Act has proven an absolute boon for the American South. Because the act requires electric cars to have final assembly in North America in order to be eligible for the $7500 federal tax incentive, Asian and European manufacturers are rushing to retool their existing American-based plants or build new ones for EV production. Thanks to their largely union-opposed legal atmosphere, cheaper passive labor forces, and billions in available incentives, many of these plants will open in the South.
The only question at this point is whether the south will remain non-union into the near future. Last week UAW President Shawn Fain promised that “(w)hen we return to the bargaining table in 2028, it won’t just be with the Big Three. It will be the Big Five or Big Six.” Looking to grow the UAW’s influence to new automakers won’t be easy, but recent contract wins may prove to workers at other automakers that they can fight for greater value and influence.
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