U.S. President Joe Biden says he’ll head to Michigan next week to support the United Auto Workers (UAW) strikes against Ford, General Motors (GM) and Stellantis.
Biden says he’ll head to Michigan on Tuesday to support the workers on strike, as announced in a post on X on Friday. The news also comes as the UAW has launched another round of strikes at key GM and Stellantis manufacturing plants, with the union sparing Ford due to progress in negotiations, according to reports from The New York Times and AP News.
Tuesday, I’ll go to Michigan to join the picket line and stand in solidarity with the men and women of UAW as they fight for a fair share of the value they helped create.
It’s time for a win-win agreement that keeps American auto manufacturing thriving with well-paid UAW jobs.
— President Biden (@POTUS) September 22, 2023
The expanded strikes saw workers walking off the job at 20 Stellantis auto parts distribution centers and 18 GM facilities, representing plants across 20 states. Ford managed to avoid escalated strikes after meeting some of the UAW’s demands. The UAW said in a post on Saturday that its pressure on Ford was paying off, and union President Shawn Fawn emphasized the point in comments directed at GM and Stellantis.
“We’ve made some real progress at Ford,” Fain said. “We still have serious issues to work through, but we do want to recognize that Ford is showing that they are serious about reaching a deal. At GM and Stellantis, it’s a different story.”
The union hasn’t yet finalized agreements with Ford, though analysts say that confirming a deal with the company would put significant pressure on both GM and Stellantis. Michael Duff, a former National Labor Relations Board attorney and current Professor at Saint Louis University School of Law, says that the UAW could leverage a deal with Ford against the other two automakers.
“The moment you get a deal with Ford that includes much or all of what the UAW is looking for, that puts a lot of pressure on GM and Stellantis,” Duff said. “They are putting them in a position of having to argue why they’re different, why they can’t give anything more.”
The UAW represents roughly 150,000 auto workers across the three companies, and over 18,000 of them are currently on strike. The union is demanding a 40-percent wage increase over the next four years to keep up with inflation and recent CEO pay increases. It’s also demanding an end to tiered wages, shorter workweeks, improved pension plans and more.
As of last week, the three automakers had made new contract offers featuring roughly 20-percent wage hikes over the four years, and Ford CEO Jim Farley warned that the UAW’s current demands would bankrupt the automaker if enacted.
“These are historic gains,” the UAW said Saturday in a message to members. “But we have further to go.”
So far, the strikes have resulted in the total production loss of about 16,000 vehicles, as AP News reports. Some also think the resulting damage could be poised to benefit Tesla amidst an industry-wide transition to electric vehicles (EVs). Earlier this week, Fain took aim at the non-unionized EV automaker, saying that their pay also left something to be desired for workers.
“Most of these workers in those companies are scraping to get by so that greedy CEOs and greedy people like Elon Musk can build more rocket ships and shoot theirself in outer space,” Fain said. “And that’s unacceptable.”