The Biden administration is dispatching a team to Detroit to assist in the ongoing UAW labor contract negotiations. The move arrives as UAW members conduct targeted strikes at all three of the Big Detroit automakers, including GM, Ford, and Stellantis. UAW called for a strike following the expiration of the previous auto contracts last week.
The White House team includes Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and White House Senior Adviser Gene Sperling. According to a report from CNBC, the team is expected to arrive in Detroit early this week.
“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,” an unnamed Biden administration official told NBC. The official added that that the Biden administration was “pleased that the parties are continuing to meet as they had been before the contract expired.”
Secretary Su and adviser Sperling will not serve as mediators or intervene in the ongoing negotiations. Rather, the White House team will be onhand available to support the negotiations in any way the parties feel to be constructive.
President Biden weighed in on the strike last week, saying that although “no one wants a strike,” he “[respects] workers’ right to use their options under the collective bargaining system.” Biden also echoed the UAW in saying that the record profits realized by auto companies over the past decade should equate to record contracts for workers. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has also reportedly engaged in talks with the UAW and Big Three automakers, urging both sides to find a solution.
The UAW has yet to endorse President Biden for re-election, arguing that the Inflation Reduction Act does not provide enough protection for union members in the transition to electric vehicles. Biden, who characterizes himself as “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen,” faced criticism from union leaders last year after signing a bill blocking a strike by U.S. rail workers.