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UAW leader says strike would send message to Biden

A United Auto Workers union strike against Detroit automakers would help President Joe Biden and other politicians choose sides when it comes to unions, UAW President Shawn Fain said Wednesday night.

“I think our strike can reaffirm to (Biden) the position of the working class in this country and, you know, it’s time for politicians in this country to choose sides,” he said during the ” CNBC’s Last Call” with Brian. Sullivan. “Either you stand up for a class of billionaires where everyone else gets left behind, or you stand up for the working class, working class people vote.”

The outspoken union leader reiterated that the strike against General Engines, Ford engine and or Stellantis When the contracts of around 150,000 autoworkers expire after 11:59 p.m., September 14 is not the target, but the parties remain far apart when it comes to key demands.

UAW President Shawn Fain addresses union members during a Sunday solidarity rally in Warren, Michigan, August 20, 2023.

Michael Wayland/CNBC

“We are at the end of it. We have eight days left,” Fain said. “We are pushing. We are available 24/7, as we have been for seven weeks, so it is up to the companies to decide where we get to and whether or not we should act on the 14th.”

Fain said the union was scheduled to meet Thursday morning with GM, following a Wednesday afternoon meeting with Ford. Stellantis said Wednesday that it “intends to submit a counteroffer to the UAW to its members’ economic demands by the end of the week.”

Fain’s comments about Biden add to an unusual tension between the historically Democratic labor leader and the commander-in-chief, who has called himself “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.”

Earlier this week, Fain said he was “shocked” to hear Biden say he “isn’t worried about a strike until it happens” and that he doesn’t “think not that it was going to happen.”

“He must know something that we don’t. Maybe the companies are planning to step in and let us know our demands the night before. I don’t know, but he knows something that I don’t know,” Fain said. reporters at a Labor Day event in Detroit.

The UAW has always supported Democrats. However, former President Donald Trump was able to garner notable support from blue-collar automotive workers during his presidential campaign. Fain said he thinks another Trump presidency “would be a disaster,” citing the need for the union to “bring our members together behind a pro-worker, pro-climate, pro-democracy political agenda that can serve the class. factory Girl “. “.

The UAW is holding back on endorsing Biden’s re-election until concerns about the auto industry’s transition to all-electric vehicles, such as job security, compensation and unionization, are resolved, Fain said previously.

“Our supports will not be given for free and actions will dictate who we support,” Fain reiterated on 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 have a ripple effect on the auto supply chain, the US economy and the domestic manufacturing industry.

Speaking in front of a backdrop of American-made vehicles and a UAW sign, then-presidential candidate President Joe Biden talks about new proposals to protect American jobs during a campaign stop in Warren, Michigan, September 9, 2020.

Leah Millis | Reuters

A strike against GM in 2019 during the last round of contract talks lasted 40 days and cost the automaker $3.6 billion in profits that year, GM reported at the time.

The union’s current demands could also prove costly if tentative agreements are reached. Key demands include a 40% hourly wage increase, a reduced 32-hour working week, a return to traditional pensions, the elimination of pay grades and the reinstatement of cost-of-living adjustments, among other points on Table.