The Biden administration has opted not to send two officials to Detroit to assist in the ongoing labor contract negotiations between the UAW (United Auto Workers) and Big Three automakers (GM, Ford, and Stellantis). Biden previously announced last week that he would send a team to assist in finding an equitable deal between the labor union and automakers. The UAW has threatened to expand its strike on Friday if progress towards striking a deal isn’t made.
Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and White House Senior Adviser Gene Sperling were previously expected to arrive in Detroit early this week. However, according to a report from CNBC, White House officials and the UAW have instead agreed to speak virtually via Zoom. Su and Sperling may still travel to Detroit next week, but for now, there are no firm travel plans, per a White House official.
UAW President Shawn Fain addressed reports that the White House was poised to send a team to assist in the talks.
“This battle is not about the president,” said Fain said on Monday. “It’s not about the former president or any other person prior to that. This battle is about the workers standing up for economic and social justice and getting their fair share because they’re fed up with going backwards.”
President Biden has frequently framed himself as pro-union, and has voiced support for the UAW strike, echoing the union’s slogan that record profits should equate to record contracts. Nevertheless, the UAW has yet to endorse Biden for re-election, with some labor leaders pointing to inadequate protection for workers in the Inflation Reduction Act with regard to the broader auto industry transition to EVs, as well as Biden’s decision to sign a bill blocking a strike by U.S. rail workers last year.
Roughly 12,700 UAW members are currently on strike across all three of the Big Detroit automakers, including workers at the GM Wentzville plant in Missouri, Ford’s Wayne Assembly Plant in Michigan, as well as the Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio. The UAW represents some 146,000 autoworkers across all three automakers. UAW began the current strike after the previous contract expired last Thursday. The UAW previously called for a strike against GM in 2019.
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