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UAW leader warns of strike after Biden suggests he’s not worried about failed talks: ‘It looks like that’


The United Auto Workers union leader on Thursday pushed back against President Joe Biden’s remarks over the weekend, dismissing the possibility of an impending strike against Detroit automakers as contract talks remain at an impasse.

In an interview on “Morning Joe,” UAW President Shawn Fain was asked to respond to Biden’s Labor Day remarks when asked if he was worried about a UAW strike. Biden said, “No, I’m not worried about a strike until it happens. »

Fain said the union’s intention was to reach an agreement with the automakers.

“One thing we said early on is that things won’t be the way they always have been,” he said. “Companies that have been in past negotiations always tend to drag things out until the very end and then they want to drop a bunch of stuff and get on with it,” he said. “And I told them said from day one that we had no intention of doing it this way.”

The union leader stressed that he plans to negotiate with the three Detroit automakers — General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis — until the contracts of about 150,000 autoworkers expire on September 14 . The union hopes to reach an agreement by then, Fain said. said, but warned that “there will be action” if a deal is not reached within that time.

“So, you know, the way things are going right now, that’s what’s happening,” he said, referring to a potential strike. “So hopefully, you know, things can change.”

The UAW has backed Biden’s bid for the 2020 presidential election, but when asked if Biden would receive union endorsement again, Fain said he’s withholding support for his bid at this time. re-election. Fain said the president should address concerns about the auto industry’s transition to all-electric vehicles, including job security, compensation and unionization.

“We will make the decision when the time is right — when our members decide that the time is right, as well as our leadership. And you know, it’s a process that we follow. The only thing we have clearly said is that our support will be earned and not given for free. It’s something we do differently, and there’s still a lot of work to do here.

Fain said of Biden, “With the EV transition, I think his intentions were good when he said he wanted these jobs to be well paid or to be union jobs. But like I said, you give the company an inch, it takes a mile. Companies interpret this as if they have no problem with it being unionized jobs, but they want it to be a race to the bottom,” he said, referring to the slow salary increases in past cases and adding that the transition to electric vehicles “must be a just transition. »

Fain then reiterated his denunciation of former President Donald Trump, referring to comments he made during his 2016 election campaign.

“I’ll never forget during the 2016 race when he talked about workers in Michigan, union jobs and the Midwest, and said we need to rotate in this country, we need to move those jobs to other places. ‘other less-paying places. and then these people will beg to get their jobs back for anything,” he said. “He’s not a person I want as president.”

Fain also took issue with Trump’s recent call for autoworkers to stop paying union dues while criticizing union leadership in a post this week on his Truth Social platform.

“He is not someone who represents the working class. He is part of the billionaire class, we must not forget that,” he said. “And that is what our members must think about when they go to vote.

The White House, Biden’s campaign and the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to NBC News’ requests for comment. Representatives of the Big Three automakers also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fain’s remarks come days after he told the Detroit News he was “shocked” in response to Biden’s assertion that an auto strike is unlikely.

“He must know something that we don’t know,” Fain said, according to the Detroit News. “Our intention is not to strike. Our intention is to get a fair deal. This has been our intention since day one. But by the time we get to the timeline, there are three companies to negotiate with and 10 days left to do so. So I know what it looks like to me.

Fain said Wednesday that a strike would show Biden and other politicians that they have to “pick sides” when it comes to the labor movement.

“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 on Wednesday. “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. »