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UAW’s Shawn Fain challenges Joe Biden as strike expands

The United Automobile Workers (UAW) union announced Friday that it is expanding its strike against two of the so-called “big three” automakers in the United States, an escalation that could hurt the economy and drive up car costs , with the union president calling on President Joe Biden to join the pickets.

Shawn Fain, president of the UAW, said in a Facebook Live address to members that negotiations with Ford, the other company workers are striking against, have progressed and will be spared from the expansion.

About 5,600 UAW members at 38 locations in 20 states at General Motors (GM) and Stellantis will join the 13,000 co-workers who walked off the job last Friday – the first time in history they have strike simultaneously against the three companies. They abandoned their tools due to demands including wage increases, cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to keep wages in line with inflation, and profit-sharing plans.

Fain also called on President Joe Biden to join the union on the picket line in support of the strike. “We invite and encourage everyone who supports our cause to join us on the picket line. From our friends and family to the President of the United States. We invite you to join us in our fight,” he said. -he declared in his speech on Friday.

Members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) are striking Saturday at the Ford Michigan assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan. The union announced Friday it was expanding its strike against two of the “big three” automakers in the United States, an escalation that could hurt the economy and drive up car prices. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Fain added that Ford had agreed to reinstate cost-of-living allowances suspended in 2019 and remove wage levels between workers. The union also won the right to strike against factory closures. In the event of indefinite layoffs, there will be some salary amortization for up to 2 years with health care benefits for employees who have worked at the company for 90 days. Both parties also made progress on profit sharing.

“We’ve made real progress at Ford. We’re not there yet,” Fain said.

Ford said in a statement on its website Friday that the parties had come together on some issues, but there was still work to be done to find a solution.

“Ford is working diligently with the UAW to reach an agreement that rewards our workforce and allows Ford to invest in a dynamic and growing future,” the company said. “Even as we are making progress in some areas, we still have significant gaps to close on key economic issues. Ultimately, the issues are interconnected and must work as part of a comprehensive agreement that supports our mutual success .”

At the same time, negotiations with GM and Stellantis have made little progress, Fain said, on issues such as cost-of-living allowances and profit-sharing agreements.

“We’re not going to wait forever for a fair deal with the Big Three, the companies know how to work things out,” he said.

Fain added that the expanded strike that begins Friday at noon ET at GM and Stellantis will go nationwide.

“We will shut down parts of the distribution until these companies come to their senses and come to the table with a serious offer,” he said. “This expansion will take our fight national. We will be everywhere from California to Massachusetts to Oregon to Florida. And we will continue, continue to organize, and continue to expand the strike as necessary.”

News week has contacted GM and Stellantis for comment via email.

The strike poses a headache for Biden, who has positioned himself as a friend of unions but has also invested considerable political and economic capital in transitioning the auto industry to an electric future. The companies said they could not meet the UAW’s demands because they needed to keep costs low in their transition to a green automotive future.

The strike could also have a knock-on effect on the economy. Some analyzes suggest the economy would lose about $415 million and thousands of jobs, according to research firm The Perryman Group. A long-term strike could also push up car prices, analysts say.

Biden has attempted to walk a fine line by expressing support for workers while not alienating businesses crucial to his agenda for the future of electric cars.

The president said last Friday that the industry’s transition to a clean energy future should be a win-win for both workers and the union, and that companies should share their “record profits” with their employees.

“Companies have made significant offers,” Biden said. “But I think they should go further to make sure that record profits for corporations mean record contracts for the UAW.”

USA News Gb2

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