President Biden is sending a team from the White House with the aim of helping to resolve the strike of the nation’s largest autoworkers union with the Big Three automakers planning to be in Detroit to support negotiations ‘early in the week.’
White House adviser 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 union, which began on Friday.
Sperling, who has been actively involved in key issues related to the union and the auto companies, has been coordinating efforts with Su.
An administration official stated, ‘Both Sperling and acting Secretary Su are engaging with the parties by phone, as they have for weeks, with the intention of being there early in the week. The Administration is pleased that the parties are continuing to meet as they had been before the contract expired.’
President Biden has dispatched a White House team to Detroit to assist in resolving the strike involving United Auto Workers union and the Big Three automakers
United Auto Workers member Brian Rooster Heppner raises his fist as he cheers during a rally in Detroit, on Friday
United Auto Workers members march through downtown Detroit on Friday. The UAW is conducting a strike against Ford, Stellantis and General Motors
Su and Sperling’s objective is not to act as mediators or intervene directly but rather to offer support in ways that the negotiating parties find constructive, according to the official.
The union representing workers at General Motors, Ford and Stellantis is seeking a 40 percent raise for its workers. The walkout is limited for now to three assembly plants: a GM factory in Wentzville, Missouri, a Ford plant near Detroit, and a Jeep plant run by Stellantis in Toledo, Ohio.
The United Auto Workers chief warned on Sunday that a historic strike at the top three car manufacturers will expand if the companies do not raise their wage offers in ongoing negotiations.
Stellantis, one of the three, had offered its workers what it called a ‘highly competitive’ wage increase of 21 percent over four years, but UAW President Shawn Fain called that ‘definitely a no-go.’
Labor Secretary Julie Su is part of a White House delegation sent to Detroit in a bid to resolve strikes
UAW Local 685 President Garry Quirk said hat Biden had not done enough to prevent a strike, saying: ‘I don’t know what he’s done’
As part of its demands, the UAW wants to represent employees at battery plants, which would send ripple effects through an industry that has seen supply chains upended by technological changes
‘If we don’t get better offers and… take care of the members’ needs, we’re going to amp this up even more,’ Fain told CBS News talk show ‘Face the Nation,’ saying General Motors, Ford and Stellantis have ‘no excuse’ for not resolving salary disputes given their massive profits of recent years.
‘We’re prepared to do whatever we have to do. The membership is ready, the membership is fed up.’
The UAW is demanding improved conditions across the board for its workers, including a 40 percent pay raise over the next four-year contract. All three companies have been offering raises of around 20 percent.
A UAW source confirmed the union held talks with General Motors on Sunday, the third day of the strike, but offered no further details.
The standoff has fed already acrimonious 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 auto dispute.
Biden, the self-described ‘most pro-union president in American history,’ spoke with UAW boss Shawn Fain and the three auto company CEOs in a futile last-ditch bid to avoid a strike
Jim Farley, President and CEO of the Ford Motor Company speaks to reporters about the UAW contract talks 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 pointed to the possibility of a much broader action, with echoes throughout the economy.
On Friday, President Biden expressed hope that the UAW and the Big Three automakers would return to the bargaining table.
He acknowledged the frustration among workers, emphasizing that while automobile companies were reporting ‘record profits,’ the gains had not been passed along to the workforce.
Biden said that profits had not ‘been shared fairly, in my view, with those workers.
‘Let’s be clear: No one wants a strike. But I respect workers’ right to use their options under the collective bargaining system,’ he said at the White House.
The strike poses a unique challenge for the president who has previously identified 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 as they strike the Big Three automakers on Friday in Detroit
Members of the UAW union march through the streets of downtown Detroit following a rally on the first day of the UAW strike in Detroit
Democrats have lined up solidly behind the autoworkers.
‘The president has made it clear which side he is on in this struggle,’ liberal senator Bernie Sanders said on CNN, adding that Biden had repeatedly said ‘that a strong labor movement benefits all of us.’
On social media, Vice President Kamala Harris said she agreed that ‘a new contract should promote good middle-class jobs — and ensure the UAW remains at the heart of our auto economy.’
Historically, the UAW has supported Democratic candidates like Biden, but former President Donald Trump garnered significant support from blue-collar autoworkers.
Trump, who holds a resounding lead in polls over other Republican presidential aspirants, has been critical of the union’s leadership and of Biden’s focus on promoting EV manufacturing.
‘The auto workers will not have any jobs… because all of these cars are going to be made in China — the electric cars, automatically, are going to be made in China,’ Trump said in an interview aired Sunday on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.
Before the strike was officially declared, UAW President Shawn Fain had pointed out that a walkout would force Biden and other politicians to take sides in the organized labor dispute.
As of midnight on Friday, approximately 13,000 UAW members initiated strikes at various locations, including a General Motors facility in Missouri, a Stellantis center in Ohio, and a Ford assembly plant in Michigan.
On Friday, Ford said it was indefinitely laying off 600 workers at a Michigan plant because of the impact of the strike at the facility, which makes the Bronco, and GM told some 2,000 workers at a Kansas car plant that their factory likely would be shut down Monday or Tuesday due to a lack of parts stemming from the strike at a GM Missouri plant.
Should all UAW members go on strike, the union’s strike fund would be sufficient to provide around 11 weeks of strike pay.