President Biden is sending a team from the White House to help resolve the strike by the nation’s largest auto workers union. The three major automakers plan to be in Detroit “early this week” to support negotiations.
White House Counsel Gene Sperling and acting Labor Secretary Julie Su traveled to Detroit with the aim of reaching an agreement to end the strike initiated by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union that began on Friday.
Sperling, who is actively involved in important issues related to the union and the automobile companies, coordinated the effort with Su.
An administration official said: “Both Sperling and Acting Minister Su are in contact with the parties by telephone, as they have been for weeks, with the intention of being there at the beginning of the week.” “The administration is pleased that the Parties will continue to meet as before the contract expired.”
President Biden has dispatched a White House team to Detroit to help resolve the strike between the United Auto Workers union and the three major automakers
United Auto Workers member Brian Rooster Heppner raises his fist as he cheers during a rally in Detroit on Friday
Members of the United Auto Workers march through downtown Detroit on Friday. The UAW stages a strike against Ford, Stellantis and General Motors
Su and Sperling’s goal is not to act as mediators or intervene directly, but rather to offer support in a way that the negotiating parties find constructive, the official said.
The union representing workers at General Motors, Ford and Stellantis is demanding a 40 percent pay increase for its employees. The strike is initially limited to three assembly plants: a GM plant in Wentzville, Missouri, a Ford plant near Detroit and a Stellantis Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio.
The head of the United Auto Workers union warned Sunday that a historic strike at the three largest automakers will expand if the companies do not increase their wage offers in ongoing negotiations.
Stellantis, one of the three, had offered its workers what they called a “highly competitive” wage increase of 21 percent over four years, but UAW President Shawn Fain called it “definitely a no-go.”
Labor Secretary Julie Su is part of a White House delegation sent to Detroit to resolve strikes
UAW Local 685 President Garry Quirk said Biden didn’t do enough to prevent a strike, saying, “I don’t know what he did.”
As part of its demands, the UAW wants to represent workers at battery factories, which would impact an industry where supply chains have been upended by technological changes
“If we don’t get better deals and … address the needs of members, we’re going to increase this,” Fain said on the CBS News talk show “Face the Nation,” saying General Motors, Ford and Stellantis have faced their enormous profits in recent years are “no excuse” for not resolving salary disputes.
“We’re willing to do whatever we need to do. Membership is ready, membership is fed up.”
The UAW is calling for improved conditions for its workers across the board, including a 40 percent pay increase for the next four-year contract. All three companies have offered increases of around 20 percent.
A UAW source confirmed that the union held talks with General Motors on Sunday, the third day of the strike, but gave no further details.
The standoff has already fueled a heated debate in Washington over President Joe Biden’s economic policies ahead of the 2024 election – and whether he has done enough to avert or resolve the car dispute.
Biden, the self-proclaimed “most pro-union president in American history,” spoke to UAW chief Shawn Fain and the three auto company CEOs in a futile last-ditch effort to prevent a strike
Jim Farley, president and CEO of Ford Motor Company, speaks to reporters about the UAW contract negotiations at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last week
Only 12,700 of the union’s 150,000 workers are currently on strike, but Fain’s comments suggested the possibility of a much broader action that will resonate throughout the economy.
On Friday, President Biden expressed hope that the UAW and the Big Three automakers would return to the negotiating table.
He acknowledged the frustration among workers and stressed that while auto companies reported “record profits,” those profits were not passed on to the workforce.
Biden said the profits “were not, in my opinion, fairly shared with these workers.”
“Let me be clear: Nobody wants a strike. But I respect the right of workers to exercise their options under the collective bargaining system,” he said at the White House.
The strike presents a unique challenge for the president, who has previously described himself as “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.”
Senator Bernie Sanders and Fain (left) speak at a rally in support of United Auto Workers members striking the three major automakers in Detroit on Friday
UAW union members march through the streets of downtown Detroit after a rally on the first day of the UAW strike in Detroit
Democrats have thrown their weight behind autoworkers.
“The president has made it clear which side he is on in this fight,” liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders said on CNN, adding that Biden has repeatedly said “a strong labor movement benefits us all.”
On social media, Vice President Kamala Harris said she agreed that “a new contract should support good middle-class jobs and ensure that the UAW remains at the heart of our automotive economy.”
In the past, the UAW has supported Democratic candidates like Biden, but former President Donald Trump received significant support from auto industry workers.
Trump, who has a significant lead in polls over other Republican presidential candidates, criticized the union’s leadership and Biden’s focus on promoting electric vehicle manufacturing.
“The auto workers won’t have jobs … because all of these cars are made in China – the electric cars are automatically made in China,” Trump said in an interview that aired Sunday on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’
Before formally calling the strike, UAW President Shawn Fain noted that a strike would force Biden and other politicians to take sides in organized labor disputes.
At midnight Friday, about 13,000 UAW members began strikes at various locations, including a General Motors plant in Missouri, a Stellantis center in Ohio and a Ford assembly plant in Michigan.
On Friday, Ford said 600 workers at a plant in Michigan would be laid off indefinitely due to the impact of the strike at the factory that makes the Bronco, and GM told about 2,000 workers at an auto plant in Kansas that Their factory would likely close due to a shortage of parts caused by the strike at a GM plant in Missouri, which experienced outages on Monday or Tuesday.
If all UAW members went on strike, the union’s strike fund would be enough to pay about 11 weeks of strike pay.