For Michigan’s Economy, Electric Vehicles Are Promising and Scary

Last fall, Tiffanie Simmons, a second-generation autoworker, endured a six-week strike at the Ford Motor factory just west of Detroit where she builds Bronco S.U.V.s. That yielded a pay raise of 25 percent over the next four years, easing the pain of reductions that she and other union workers swallowed more than a decade ago.

But as Ms. Simmons, 38, contemplates prospects for the American auto industry in the state that invented it, she worries about a new force: the shift toward electric vehicles. She is dismayed that the transition has been championed by President Biden, whose pro-labor credentials are at the heart of his bid for re-election, and who recently gained the endorsement of her union, the United Automobile Workers.

The Biden administration has embraced electric vehicles as a means of generating high-paying jobs while cutting emissions. It has dispensed tax credits to encourage consumers to buy electric cars, while limiting the benefits to models that use American-made parts.

But autoworkers fixate on the assumption that electric cars — simpler machines than their gas-powered forebears — will require fewer hands to build. They accuse Mr. Biden of jeopardizing their livelihoods.

“I was disappointed,” Ms. Simmons said of the president. “We trust you to make sure that Americans are employed.”

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