Detroit Free Press: Marick Masters on job loss due to automaker transition to EVs

About 770 hourly workers at General Motors Rochester Operations plant in New York are in a fight for their future. In some ways, they exemplify what other GM factories could face as the auto industry's landscape shifts towards a technologically new world that'll be home to electric vehicles. GM's present move to outsource work at that plant is, to some degree, a part of repositioning the company for the next generation of vehicles, said Marick Masters, a Wayne State University business professor who has studied the potential impact of transitioning to EVs. "GM is fulfilling its promise announced in 2018 to offshore this parts production, resulting in the loss of about one-third of the hourly workforce," Masters said. "The union's leverage lies basically in the extent to which it can convince lawmakers to 'jawbone' GM into shifting new product to the (Rochester) plant." Even Ford Motor Co.'s CEO Jim Farley has said technology changes in the industry will dramatically affect workers, and leaders must consider their well-being as those leaders shape global transportation policy. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, has been a strong advocate of such action, Masters said. More lawmakers will have to address the issue of jobs lost as the auto industry embraces new technology that changes the game, Masters said. He cites research speculating that about 35,000 hourly jobs could perish across the car industry as GM and other automakers move to EVs, Masters said. The critical public policy question is how to address those displaced workers, or the "middle skills" worker, Masters said.

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