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Return of the Mack

Presented by Capital Access Alliance: Delivered every Monday by 10 a.m., Weekly Transportation examines the latest news in transportation and infrastructure politics and policy.
Oct 10, 2023 View in browser

By Alex Daugherty

Presented by

With help from Oriana Pawlyk, Tanya Snyder and Hannah Pinski 

Quick fix

— The UAW’s Big Three strike doesn’t expand, but Mack Trucks workers reject an agreement and walk off the job.  

— The attacks on Israel are likely to complicate global oil markets and the speaker’s race.

— EV chargers remain scarce in many parts of the country.

IT’S TUESDAY: You’re reading Morning Transportation, your Washington policy guide to everything that moves. You can reach Alex, Oriana, Tanya and Hannah at [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected], respectively. Find us all on the platform formerly known as Twitter @alextdaugherty, @TSnyderDC, @oriana0214 and @HannahPinski.

“(Return of the Mack) once again/(Return of the Mack) pump up the world/(Return of the Mack) watch my flow/(You know that I'll be back) here I go.”


A message from Capital Access Alliance:

The perimeter rule has resulted in Washington, D.C. having some of the Highest Ticket Prices in the country, and while that may benefit some airlines who want to protect the status quo, it hurts consumers who deserve more choices. Now is the time to expand access at DCA. Learn more.

Driving the day

SPLIT SCREEN: The ongoing Big Three strike did not expand last week, the first time since the walkout began last month that a Friday passed without an expansion. But another 4,000 United Auto Workers members at the truck manufacturer Mack went on strike starting Monday, after rank-and-file members voted down a tentative agreement struck a week ago.

UAW President Shawn Fain praised the Mack workers “holding out for a better deal and ready to stand up and walk off the job to win it.” Seventy-three percent Mack workers voted to reject the tentative agreement. Workers went on strike in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida, and a total of 30,000 UAW members are currently on strike.

But there was some progress made in the ongoing Big Three negotiations. Just before Fain was set to announce a work stoppage at an SUV assembly plant in Arlington, Texas — “GM’s largest money-maker” — GM made a major concession that stopped the union in its tracks, Nick Niedzwiadek reports. The company agreed to bring electric vehicle battery production under its master agreement with the UAW, one of the union’s biggest demands. “We were told for months this was impossible,” Fain said. "Because of our power, GM has agreed to lay the foundation for a just transition.”

Ford and Stellantis haven’t yet agreed to follow suit, but the victory at GM is especially significant, as its Ultium battery plant in Lordstown, Ohio, had become the UAW’s rallying point in its fight to raise salaries and improve working conditions for workers at battery plants. The Ultium plant sits right near a shuttered GM facility that used to produce gas-powered vehicles, but the workers making batteries for EVs make far less than other GM workers under the master agreement.

Greens cheered the development, with Erika Thi Patterson, auto supply chain campaign director for Public Citizen’s Climate Program, saying GM’s move shows “we can keep a livable planet with a swift transition to EVs while making sure workers get a fair share of the gains.”


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The International Scene

OIL TURMOIL: This weekend’s surprise attack in Israel by Hamas has brought renewed calls for additional U.S. sanctions against Iran, and threatens to derail the normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. And both situations could cause oil prices to skyrocket, Matt Daily and Manuel Quinones report. Prices began climbing as soon as markets resumed trading Sunday night, with the global benchmark up 5 percent to nearly $89 a barrel.

Prices are likely to rise “not so much because the conflict impacts any oil supply at the moment, but on the fear that the conflict could draw in other players such as Iran who has been backing Hamas,” said Andy Lipow, head of the energy consulting firm Lipow Oil Associates.

On the Hill

SPEAKER URGENCY: Some GOP lawmakers are talking about reinstating Kevin McCarthy to the speaker’s chair, Meredith Lee Hill and Katherine Tully-McManus report, saying they are concerned that a drawn-out speakership fight will delay U.S. action to aid Israel. “A short window is all we need in the House to reinstate Kevin McCarthy and change the rule,” Rep. John Duarte (R-Calif.) told POLITICO. McCarthy is “aware and grateful” of the growing effort to reinstate him, but he’s not engaging at this point, an unnamed GOP lawmaker said.

The push for McCarthy or giving Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry more power is a more palatable option for many vulnerable Republicans, especially those in Biden districts, who are not closely aligned with either of the current candidates: Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).


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CHARGERS STILL LIMITED: A new POLITICO data analysis of Energy Department data shows that most counties in the U.S. have fewer than one electric vehicle charging station per 10,000 people, highlighting the gap between the Biden administration’s ambitious plans for EV usage and the infrastructure required to make them a reality.

From coast to coast: The Biden administration’s goal is to have nearly 33 million EVs on the road by 2030, requiring a charging system of 1.2 million publicly accessible EV chargers. So far, there is a clear winner: Vermont has the highest number of public charging stations per 10,000 residents, while California has the second-highest per 10,000 residents and the most EV registrations.


MORE FATAL U.S. BIZJET ACCIDENTS : Fatal U.S. business jet accidents are on the rise. In the first nine months of this year, 24 people were killed in six accidents involving U.S.-registered business jets, according to data compiled by Aviation International News. That’s a stark increase compared with the zero fatalities last year. All but one of the accidents were conducted under Part 91, a regulation created by the FAA that oversees private aircraft operations.


GO INSIDE THE CAPITOL DOME: From the outset, POLITICO has been your eyes and ears on Capitol Hill, providing the most thorough Congress coverage — from political characters and emerging leaders to leadership squabbles and policy nuggets during committee markups and hearings. We're stepping up our game to ensure you’re fully informed on every key detail inside the Capitol Dome, all day, every day. Start your day with Playbook AM, refuel at midday with our Playbook PM halftime report and enrich your evening discussions with Huddle. Plus, stay updated with real-time buzz all day through our brand new Inside Congress Live feature. Learn more and subscribe here.


MINERAL TRADE FRAGMENTED: Escalating geopolitical divisions because of Russia’s war on Ukraine could jeopardize a transition away from fossil fuels, reports E&E News’ Christine Mui. The International Monetary Fund warned in a new report that several minerals — essential components in advancing green technologies like EV battery packs — are concentrated in a handful of countries, and disruptions in commodity markets from the war could complicate accessing them through trade. This trade “fragmentation,” IMF authors wrote, “make the clean energy transition more costly, raising the risks of delaying necessary climate change mitigation.”


A message from Capital Access Alliance:

Washington, D.C. has some of the highest ticket prices in the country among all top metropolitan areas, thanks in part to the outdated, 1960s-era perimeter rule. It is costing consumers hundreds of millions per year in higher-than-average fares and millions of hours in lost productivity since so many travelers have to take unnecessary connecting flights to and from DCA.

It's time for Congress to prioritize bringing new options, more competition and lower prices to travelers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). Learn more.

The Autobahn

— “Solo sleeping pods aim to revolutionize European train travel.” CNN.

— “Fake engine parts found in Delta planes as scandal spreads to four US airlines.” The Drive.

— “California’s new senator was a labor leader. Why are unions upset with her?” The New York Times.

— ”UK joins Europe’s growing ‘greenlash’ with new pro-motorist policies.” CNBC.

— “How staff shortages can impact an airline's flight schedules.” Simple Flying.

— "Major airlines suspend flights to, from Israel amid war with Hamas." PBS News Hour.


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Kathryn Wolfe @kathrynwolfe

Alex Daugherty @alextdaugherty

Oriana Pawlyk @Oriana0214

Tanya Snyder @tsnyderdc


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Return of the Mack


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