A member of the United Auto Workers in a picket line outside the Ford Motor Co. Michigan assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, on September 15, 2023.

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The Biden administration is no longer sending two key officials to Detroit this week to potentially help broker a deal between striking auto workers and the three major auto companies, a White House official told NBC News.

President Joe Biden said last week he would send White House senior adviser Gene Sperling and acting Labor Secretary Julie Su to support talks between the companies and the United Auto Workers union.

But the White House and the UAW agreed that it would be better to speak virtually via Zoom, the official said Tuesday.

Sperling and Su could still travel to Detroit next week, but there are no concrete plans to do so, the official added. “We will continue to assess the timing of the trip based on the active status of negotiations,” the White House official said.

In a speech on Friday, Biden largely sided with the striking auto workers. The president called on Ford, General Motors and Stellantis to share record profits with their workers.

Still, Biden received a relatively cold reception from the UAW.

The union’s president, Shawn Fain, told MSNBC on Monday that he did not see the White House playing a major role in resolving the dispute.

“This fight is not about the president,” Fain said. “This is not about the former president or any other person before that. This fight is about workers standing up for economic and social justice and getting their fair share because they are tired of going backwards.”

Nearly 13,000 UAW members are on strike at three key plants in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio. It’s the first time the union has targeted all three automakers at the same time.

Fain said late Monday that the UAW would launch additional strikes at additional Ford, GM and Stellantis plants if “serious progress” in negotiations was not made by midday Friday.

“Autoworkers have waited long enough to get things right with the Big Three. We don’t wait around and we don’t play around. So Friday at noon, September 22nd, is a new deadline,” Fain said in a video released by the union.

Biden, who often touts his middle-class upbringing, has sought to align himself closely with the labor movement. But the strikes could test the president’s commitment to organized labor as work stoppages widen and broader economic disruption threatens as he seeks a second term.

Former President Donald Trump had called on the UAW to support his bid to retake the presidency in 2024 while attacking the union’s leadership.

Trump plans to skip next week’s GOP primary debate and instead travel to Detroit to speak with union members.

Source : www.cnbc.com

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