A strike by the United Auto Workers union against Detroit automakers would help President Joe Biden and other politicians choose sides when it comes to organized labor, UAW President Shawn Fain said Wednesday night.
“I think our strike can reinforce that [Biden] where the working class stands in this country, and you know, it’s time for politicians in this country to choose a side,” he said on CNBC’s Last Call with Brian Sullivan. “Either you stand for a billionaire class, where. Everyone else falls behind, or you stand for the working class, working class votes.”
The outspoken union leader reiterated that if some 150,000 autoworkers’ contracts expire after September 14 at 11:59 p.m., the goal is not to strike against General Motors, Ford Motor and/or Stellantis, but it is on the key demands the parties remain far apart.
UAW President Shawn Fain addresses union members August 20, 2023 during a solidarity rally Sunday in Warren, Michigan
“We’re at the end. We have eight days left,” Fain said. “We’re putting pressure on. We are available 24/7, as we have been for the past seven weeks. So it’s up to the companies where we land and whether or not we need to take action on the 14th.”
Fain said the union will meet with GM Thursday morning after meeting with Ford on Wednesday afternoon. Stellantis said Wednesday that it “intends to submit a counteroffer to the UAW on members’ economic demands by the end of the week.”
Fain’s comments about Biden add to the unusual tension between the leader of the historically Democratic union and the commander in chief, who has described himself as “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.”
Earlier this week, Fain said he was “shocked” when Biden said he wasn’t “concerned about a strike until it happens” and that he didn’t “think it’s going to happen.”
“He must know something we don’t know. Maybe the companies plan to come in and let us know our demands the night before. I don’t know, but he’s privy to something I don’t know about,” Fain told reporters during a Labor Day event in Detroit.
The UAW has supported the Democrats in the past. However, former President Donald Trump has garnered notable support from auto industry workers during his presidential campaign. Fain said he believes another Trump presidency would be “a disaster,” citing the need for the union to “organize our members behind a pro-labour, pro-climate and pro-democracy political program that can bring value to the working class.” . .”
The UAW is denying a re-election for Biden until concerns about the auto industry’s transition to all-electric vehicles, such as job security, pay and organizing, are addressed, Fain had previously said.
“Our support is earned, not given voluntarily, and actions will determine who we support,” Fain affirmed Wednesday.
Simultaneous strikes against GM, Ford and Stellantis would be unprecedented. It would also be one of the largest UAW strikes in recent history and could quickly impact the auto supply chain, the US economy and domestic manufacturing.
Against a backdrop of U.S.-made vehicles and a UAW sign, President Joe Biden, then-presidential candidate, speaks about new proposals to protect U.S. jobs during a campaign stop in Warren, Michigan September 9, 2020.
Leah Millis | Reuters
A strike against GM in 2019 during the latest round of contract negotiations lasted 40 days and cost the automaker $3.6 billion in profits that year, GM reported at the time.
Also, the union’s current demands could be costly if tentative agreements are reached. Key demands include a 40% increase in hourly wages, a reduced 32-hour work week, a return to traditional pensions, the elimination of pay scales and the reinstatement of cost-of-living adjustments.
Source : www.cnbc.com