View all stories

The Intersection of Climate and Labor in the EV Transition

In today's edition of This Week in Climate, we look at a tentative agreement for the UAW and Ford.
Abigail Bassett
Oct 27, 2023 11 min read
Share this post

A few weeks ago, we wrote about the start of the UAW strikes and what they meant for the green transportation transition. As the strike neared its seventh week, United Auto Workers announced a tentative deal with Ford, while continuing to strike at GM and Stellantis, the other two of the so-called Big Three U.S. automakers. Here’s the latest on how the UAW strike will continue to impact the transition to electrified transportation and the fight against climate change.

UAW Reaches a Tentative Agreement with Ford

On Thursday night, the United Auto Workers (UAW) and Ford came to a tentative agreement to end the strike and send workers back to Ford plants in Kentucky, Michigan, and Chicago and get more than 20,000 Ford employees back to work.

Preliminary reports indicated that Ford has agreed to a 25% wage increase for UAW workers over four-and-a-half years, plus a cost of living wage increase, pushing hourly rates over $40 per hour. Before the tentative agreement, full-time UAW workers' pay started at $18 per hour and maxed out at $32 per hour.

The tentative agreement also includes a plan for full-time employees to reach the top wage in three years, improvement in retirement benefits, and, in a significant shift, the right to strike over plant closures. The agreement gives the UAW the right to strike at the entire company over any plant closure, which could significantly impact the EV transition.

Just this week, the UAW had expanded its strike to one of the most lucrative Ford locations, a truck plant in Kentucky, after changing up its strategy in September to put further financial pressure on automakers. Previously, the union had warned the Big Three about where it would strike prior to worker walkouts.

... But the UAW Will Continue to Strike at Stellantis and GM

According to the UAW, the strike will continue at Stellantis and GM as of Thursday evening. Once news of the Ford agreement came out, the remaining two companies moved to come to their own tentative agreements with the union as soon as possible.

This week, the UAW expanded the strike against Stellantis when more than 6,000 workers walked out of a truck and SUV plant outside of Detroit, and forcing the company to lay off 2,000 workers due to the strike.

The UAW also expanded its strike against GM, walking out of a plant in Michigan that makes popular models, including the Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon, and Cadillac Escalade. This week, GM said that the strike was beginning to have a significant financial impact on its bottom line even though the company reported another increase in earnings when it reported them this week. GM said the strike cost $200 million in the first two weeks of the quarter but says that those costs have risen since.

During the first three weeks of October, GM said the strike cost them $600 million–equating to around $200 million per week. In addition to this, Honda, the Japanese automaker recently announced that it’s pulling out of a deal with GM to develop affordable EVs.

Ford reported earnings after the bell on Thursday evening and, unlike GM, missed earnings targets. However, like GM, the company pulled its guidance for the year because of the pending UAW strike.

One key point that emerged from the report was that Ford’s EV unit posted a $1.33 billion loss for the quarter. Ford said that the UAW strike has caused $1.3 billion in lost production and around $100 million in loss during the third quarter.

What Role do EVs and the Green Transportation Transition Play in the UAW Strikes?

As we mentioned in our previous post, one of the central points of the strike has been the green transportation transition. All Big Three automakers are working on building and creating brand-new electric vehicles. Because these vehicles rely on an entirely new propulsion system and require fewer parts to assemble, the UAW has been concerned about everything from plant closures to issues around the labor used in these new battery and EV plants.

Ford, for example, is spending billions to make the EV transition. The company is currently building four new EV battery plants in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Michigan. Of those, three of them are jointly owned by overseas partners from China, a country without unions. The new battery plants will be managed by Ford partner SK One, which will be exempt from the agreements in the tentative deal between Ford and the UAW.

GM and Stellantis also have agreements to build battery plants with overseas partners from Korea and China as well, which has largely hampered negotiations around the EV transition. However, this week, GM CEO Mary Barra reportedly offered the UAW to put any “future” battery plants under the union's master agreement. Thursday, the UAW countered with another offer that’s similar to the tentative agreement that they have with Ford. The sides are reportedly close to reaching an agreement.

It’s important to note that the UAW’s movement could still make EVs more expensive for consumers. In September, it was reported that prices for EVs could rise as much as $5,000 as a result of the strike. While the average price of an EV dropped by nearly $15,000 in the last year, according to car sales site KBB (thanks in large part to Tesla’s aggressive marketing tactics), the combination of high car prices and high interest rates could significantly stall consumers’ willingness to buy into the green transportation transformation. It’s also reportedly getting harder for dealers to sell electric vehicles because EVs are still too expensive for car buyers.

At its core, the UAW strike is about a just transition from fossil fuels to electric vehicles. Everything from retraining displaced workers to ensuring that future technological innovations sustainably support employees whose jobs are threatened by the green transition sits at the heart of the UAW movement. As The Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein pointed out in September, the unions fear that the automotive industry is using the EV transition to continue its shift away from well-paying jobs.

As the Biden administration pushes forward with its climate change goals and initiatives, it's clear that the UAW strike underscores some of the central tensions that exist between the country’s climate goals and how it will affect the workforce both here in the U.S. and abroad.

SURVEY: What did you think of this edition of This Week in Climate? Let us know in our feedback survey here!

🌎 New Climate Jobs

Check out some of the latest featured jobs below. If you don't see anything that speaks to you, you can always go to Climatebase to explore thousands of other opportunities.

Planet Reimagined

“We are training the climate leaders of the future with customized fellowships that teach researchers and advocates how to work together for measurable impact. By harnessing the power of media and entertainment, we reach over 100 million people a year, turning research-driven thought into collective action, fueling positive change for the planet and the people who call it home. ...”

  • Manger, Institutional Partnerships (Remote)

Truterra, LLC

“Truterra is a leading sustainability solutions provider, advancing and connecting sustainability efforts throughout the food system at scale – from farmers to ag retailers to value chain collaborators including food and fiber companies. Truterra positions farmers for success by providing them tools and resources to establish a stewardship baseline, track progress on every field they farm, access conservation resources, and prepare for ecosystem services market opportunities. The Truterra ...”

  • Sr. Carbon Standards and Methodologies Manager (Remote (Arden Hills, MN, USA))


“MaGrann develops and deploys best practices in sustainable MEP engineering, green building certification, deep energy retrofits, and building decarbonization..”

  • Energy Engineer (701 East Gate Drive, Mount Laurel Township, NJ, USA)
  • Energy Inspector (Remote)
  • Energy Engineer Manager (701 East Gate Drive, Mount Laurel Township, NJ, USA)

Tierra Climate

“To reach Net Zero, the U.S. needs between 200-400 gigawatts of grid-scale energy storage by 2050, requiring over $1 trillion dollars in investment. Tierra Climate is an innovative technology company dedicated to unleashing the decarbonization potential of grid-scale energy storage. We’re pioneering a new category of environmental attributes for energy storage that will enable sustainability-minded companies to financially support emissions-reducing ...”

  • Battery Optimization Lead (Houston, Texas, United States)
  • Lead Data Scientist (Houston, Texas, United States)


“Climeworks empowers people to fight climate change by permanently removing CO₂ from the air with direct air capture technology. We are dedicated to purpose, we are disruptive thinkers, and we are one team. We develop, build and operate direct air capture (DAC) machines, which capture CO₂ directly from the air. The air-captured carbon dioxide can either be recycled and reused as ...”

They are hiring across the following departments

  • Strategy
  • Partnerships
  • Manufacturing
  • Design Engineering
  • Production Management
  • Assembly
  • Data Operations
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Finance
  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Chemistry
  • Accounting
  • Grants
  • DAC


“Crusoe has pioneered infrastructure that taps into stranded energy — methane being flared or excess production from clean and renewable sources — to power the compute resources we need to drive our shared progress and reduce its environmental impact. In a few short years, data centers will consume more than 10% of the world’s electricity. By powering the Crusoe Cloud™ platform ...”

They are hiring across the following departments:

  • Technology Leadership
  • Warehouse
  • Painter
  • Financial Analysis
  • Data Engineering
  • Sales Engineering
  • Sales
  • Project Management
  • Field Operations
  • Logistics Lead
  • IT Procurement
  • Cloud Engineering
  • IT Architecture
  • R&D
  • Customer Success

Natural Resources Defense Council

“The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a non-profit environmental advocacy organization. We use law, science, and the support of 3.1 million members and online activists to protect the planet's wildlife and wild places and to ensure the rights of all people to clean air, clean water, and healthy communities. NRDC was founded in 1970 and our staff helped write ...”

  • Associate Director of Principal Gifts, Western Region (San Francisco, CA, US)
  • Strategy, Planning & Operations Lead, Nature (US)
  • Data Management Senior Associate (New York, NY, US)
  • National Director of Major Gifts (US)
  • Yale-NRDC Environmental Law Fellow (US)
  • Spring Legal Intern (Washington, DC, US)
  • Senior Treasury Analyst (US)
  • Senior Systems Analyst (US)
  • Accounts Payable Manager (US)
  • Director of Accounting (US)
  • Data Management Reporting and Analytics Specialist (New York, NY, US)
  • Howard-NRDC Environmental Justice Legal Fellow (New York, NY, US)
  • Senior Grant Writer (New York, NY, US)
  • Project Officer (Beijing, CN)
  • Project Manager (Beijing, CN)
  • Summer 2024 Legal Intern (US)
  • Adaptation Lead (Chicago, IL, US)
  • State Industrial Advocate (Washington, DC, US)
  • Analytics Engineer (New York, NY, US)
  • Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Partner (Chicago, IL, US)
  • Senior Vice President for Climate & Energy (US)
  • Senior Vice President for Environmental Health (US)
  • Senior Project Manager, Nature Conservation (Beijing, CN)
  • Senior Electric Vehicle and Infrastructure Advocate (San Francisco, CA, US)
  • Administrative Assistant (Washington, DC, US)

KoBold Metals

“KoBold Metals is a rapidly growing Silicon Valley start-up using AI to enable the transition to electrification and help solve climate change. We are backed by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a16z, Bond Capital, Sam Altman, T Rowe Price, and other premier VCs. Our team includes the best of the industry in exploration geoscience, data science, software engineering, and business ...”

  • Assistant General Counsel (Remote (Remote))
  • Principal Data Scientist (Remote (Remote))
  • Staff Data Scientist (Remote (Remote))
  • Recruitment Coordinator - Part Time (Remote (Remote))
  • Senior Decision Scientist (Remote (Remote))
  • Senior Data Scientist, Australia (Remote (Remote))
  • Senior Project Planner (Remote (Remote))
  • Senior Data Scientist (Remote (Remote))
  • Health Safety and Environment Lead (Remote (Remote))
  • Exploration Geologist (Remote (Remote))
  • Director of Geology (Remote (Remote))
  • Chief Geologist, Zambia (Northern Copperbelt, Zambia)
  • Operations Coordinator (Northern Copper Belt, Zambia)
  • Associate Data Scientist (Lusaka, Zambia)
  • Director of Field Operations (North America)
  • Sr. Exploration Geologist (Northern Copperbelt, Zambia (Fly-in fly-out considered for exceptional candidates))
  • Manager, Western Australia (Australia)
  • Field Operations Lead (Lusaka, Zambia)
  • Field Operations Lead (Northern Copperbelt, Zambia)
  • Director of Field Operations (Lusaka, Zambia)
  • Senior Data Engineer (Remote)


“RMI is an independent nonprofit founded in 1982 that transforms global energy systems through market-driven solutions to align with a 1.5°C future and secure a clean, prosperous, zero-carbon future for all. We work in the world’s most critical geographies and engage businesses, policymakers, communities, and NGOs to identify and scale energy system interventions that will cut greenhouse gas emissions at ...”

  • Corporate Engagement Manager - Climate Aligned Industries (Remote (U.S.))
  • Marketing Director (Remote (U.S.))
  • Development Senior Manager (Remote (U.S.))
  • Chemicals and Refining Senior Associate - Climate Aligned Industries (Remote (U.S.))
  • Carbon Dioxide Removal Senior Associate, Geochemistry - Climate Aligned Industries (Remote (U.S.))
  • CFAN Caribbean Manager (Remote (U.S.))
  • Communications and Media Summer Intern (Remote)
  • Finance Summer Intern (Remote)
  • Public Policy Summer Intern (Remote)
  • Built Environments Summer Intern (Remote)
  • Operations & Project Management Summer Intern (Remote)
  • Sector Research Summer Intern (Remote)
  • Data Science and Analytics Summer Intern (Remote)
  • Senior Associate - Third Derivative (Remote (U.S.))
  • Senior Associate - Third Derivative (Remote (U.S.))
  • Corporate Engagement Outreach Manager (Remote (U.S.))
  • Manager - Strategic Insights (Remote (U.S.))
  • Senior Associate - China Power Decarbonization (Beijing)
  • Senior Associate - China Hydrogen Team (Beijing)
  • Senior Associate - China Hydrogen Team (Beijing)


“Isometric is a carbon removal registry and science platform. ...”

  • Business Development Manager (London)
  • Land Use Scientist (London)
  • Carbon Removal Scientist - Biomass Feedstock Accounting (London)
  • Partnerships Manager (London)
  • Senior Scientist - Direct Air Capture and Storage (New York City)
  • Geochemist - Enhanced Weathering in Agriculture (London)
  • Engineering Manager (London)
  • Communications Lead (New York City)
  • Senior Carbon Removal Scientist or Engineer (New York City)
  • Senior Backend Engineer (London)
  • General Application (London)

SWTCH Energy

“SWTCH is pioneering EV charging solutions for multifamily and commercial properties across North America. We help building owners and operators deploy EV charging that optimizes energy usage and revenue at scale using existing grid infrastructure. ...”

  • Technical Sales Manager (Remote (California, USA))
  • Technical Sales Engineer (Remote (Washington, USA))
  • Business Development Manager - Northern California (Remote (Sacramento, CA, USA))
  • Sales Development Representative - USA West (Remote (Oregon, USA))
  • Senior Front End Developer (React) (Remote (Canada))
  • Sales Development Representative - USA East (Remote (Massachusetts, USA))
  • Sales Development Representative - USA Central (Remote (Illinois, USA))

Deep Sky

“Deep Sky is a carbon dioxide removal project developer in Canada that seeks to slow and ultimately reverse the accelerating march towards global climate disaster through carbon removal and long-term storage. In partnership with leading carbon capture technology developers from around the world, Deep Sky will build infrastructure to capture and permanently sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and ...”

  • Director of Community and Stakeholder Engagement // Directeur(trice) de l'Engagement des Communautés et des Parties Prenantes (Remote (Quebec))
  • Financial Controller // Contrôleur(euse) financier(ère) (Remote)
  • Senior Geologist (Remote)
  • Directeur des communications / Communications Director (Remote (Montréal))
  • Scientifique en données climatiques / Climate Data Scientist (Remote)
  • Chef de sequestration / Head of Sequestration (Remote (Montréal))
  • Communications Director - Directeur des communications (Montreal, QC, Canada)

Building Decarbonization Coalition

“The Building Decarbonization Coalition aligns building industry stakeholders with energy providers, environmental organizations and local governments to help electrify homes and workspaces in the United States with clean energy. Through convening, policy analysis and consumer awareness building, the Coalition is pursuing fast, fair action to accelerate the development of zero-emission homes and buildings that will help California cut one ...”

  • Senior Manager, Legislative & Regulatory Policy (Remote (Remote; Based anywhere in US))
  • Thermal Energy Networks Communications Manager (Remote (Remote; Based anywhere in US))
  • Senior Product Designer (Remote (Remote; Based anywhere in US))
  • Manager, Human Resources (Remote (Remote; Based anywhere in US))

Presto Charging

“We believe that access to reliable and affordable charging is the key to unlocking mass electrification and fighting climate change. At Presto, we are building a software platform to power magical charging experiences for fleets, mobility providers, and businesses. For our charging partners, we strive to set in motion a positive flywheel of business demand and network utilization, helping expand ...”

  • Senior Software Engineer, Mobile (Remote)
  • Senior Software Engineer, Platform (Remote)
  • Senior Manager, Business Development (Remote (Denver, CO, USA))


“Our mission is to decarbonize the transportation industry, and we devote our technology, time and talent to advancing the transition to sustainable low-carbon fuels. In 2010 we set a challenge to produce an alternative fuel which could compete with fossil fuels from both an environmental and economic perspective. In this time we have developed and patented breakthrough technology, which successfully achieves ...”

  • Senior Process Engineer (Palma, Spain)
  • Senior Instrumentation & Control Automation Engineer (Palma, Spain)

PowerDash Inc.

“PowerDash is on a mission to facilitate the transition to renewable energy by enabling stakeholders to realize the value of their renewable energy systems. We provide a web application that our customers use to monitor and manage their energy systems, in addition to acting as an independent verifier for the reporting of RECs and SRECs...”

  • Operations Manager (Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States)

That's it for this week! Remember, you can always view thousands of more jobs on

Final reminders...

👋 Get discovered. Create a profile to have employers hire you.

🚀 Accelerate your climate career. Apply to join the Climatebase Fellowship.

🌱 Hiring? Post your jobs to reach over 250k monthly users users and over 100,000 newsletter readers.

❤️️ Share a link to this week's edition.

🐦 Let's connect! Follow us on Twitter @Climatebase, and our co-founders @evandhynes and @jhardin925

The Author

Abigail Bassett