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UPDATE 1-UAW president holds White House talks on vehicle emissions

David Shepardson and Ben Klayman
·2 min read

(Adds UAW president comments, byline and dateline)

By David Shepardson and Ben Klayman

WASHINGTON/DETROIT, Feb 10 (Reuters) - United Auto Workers(UAW) President Rory Gamble held a virtual meeting last weekwith a top White House environmental official as theadministration of U.S. President Joe Biden moves to reverse therollback in vehicle emissions rules adopted under hispredecessor.

A spokesman for the Detroit-based union confirmed on TuesdayGamble met with White House domestic climate change adviser GinaMcCarthy and other members of the Biden administration.

"It was a very open and positive dialogue," Gamble said in astatement, praising the Biden administration's "commitment toregular dialogue with the UAW."

The Biden administration has started discussions with theautomobile sector about reducing greenhouse gas emissions,McCarthy told Reuters last week.

McCarthy also spoke recently to General Motors ChiefExecutive Mary Barra about the Detroit automaker's aspiration tohalt sales of all gas- and diesel-powered vehicles by 2035, theautomaker confirmed.

The White House is preparing to begin talks with automakersabout revising vehicle emission standards.

Gamble, speaking at a Detroit Automotive Press Associationevent on Wednesday, said the union has spoken with the Bidenadministration about electric and self-driving vehicles, thedevelopment of battery cell technology and U.S. manufacturingjobs more broadly.

"It is truly refreshing to have the opportunity to pick upthe phone and get a call into the president or his team," hetold reporters.

The UAW has also joined forces with automakers, dealers andsuppliers to urge the White House to take "urgent action" over agrowing production crisis sparked by a global semiconductor chipshortage.

In a previously unreported Jan. 19 letter to Biden adviserBrian Deese, the UAW and the heads of associations representingautomakers, auto dealers and parts manufacturers asked theincoming administration to consider "urging major silicon waferfoundries to ramp-up production of automotive grade wafers byeither expanding production capacity or by a short-termrebalancing of a modest portion of current wafer supply."

The letter, seen by Reuters, added the shortage would result"in production loss of hundreds of thousands of vehicles, if notmore, in the first quarter alone. These losses, combined with alarger expected economic impact in Q2 and Q3, require urgentaction."

GM said on Tuesday it was extending production cuts at threeNorth American plants until at least mid-March, and on Wednesdaywarned the shortage could hurt earnings by as much as $2billion.

Gamble said the shortage underscores the need to curtailoutsourcing of U.S. manufacturing jobs to other countries,pointing out the vast majority of chips used in the auto sectorare made overseas.

The shortage stems from a confluence of factors as automanufacturers, which shut plants for two months during theCOVID-19 pandemic last year, compete with consumer electronicsmanufacturers for chip supplies.

The chip shortage has affected many automakers, includingToyota, Volkswagen, Stellantis,Ford Motor Co, Renault, Subaru, Nissan, Honda and Mazda.(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Krishna ChandraEluri and Aurora Ellis)