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An Automakers’ Strike: Biden’s Policies in Balance

Striking United Auto Workers (UAW) members rally in front of General Motors World headquarters in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File photo

President Joes Biden Publicly said that the auto workers won’t strike when their contracts from the Big 3 U.S Carmakers will expire next week.

United Auto Workers members walk in the Labor Day parade in Detroit, Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

An automakers’ Strike

The White House Officials knows that there will be a strike according to a private person. They spend the entire summer to engage with the both sides to reconcile or come up with a labor dispute that could harm the econemoy and te president re-election. This person was granted to speak about this sensitive topic.

For a president who has been outspokenly pro-union and has bet his 2024 campaign on his handling of the economy, this labor showdown has outsized political ramifications in contrast to the last United Auto Workers strike, which lasted six weeks against General Motors in 2019. And this time, UAW President Shawn Fain is raising the prospect of a simultaneous strike by the union against GM, Ford, and Stellantis, which would have a greater negative impact on the economy.

According to the report of Politico, one of the advocacies of Biden is to have an effort for climate change and create million dollars of manufacturing jobs that uses clean-energy that frustrates the UAW which pushes an automakers’ strike because they demand shares in the benefits from the government-subsidized shift to electric vehicles.

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Fain has refused to support Biden’s reelection because he complained that the administration handed out subsidies for projects such as electric-vehicle battery plants but it does not give higher pay and labor standards.

There will be an automakers’ strike this coming Thursday that will coincide with the federal government if the congress will not reach a stopgap spending deal by Sept. 30. This will add to issue of post-pandemic stike boom that marks the era of Biden with contract disputes which shuts down much of the Hollywood and smaller protest of private companies taking place around the country.

According to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg That it is a concern and should be dealt by the government. An automakers’ strike should be taken into consideration. For him, it is a contact with the parties tha looks for solution.

Buttigieg also said that the best way is to give the UAW a credit which gives a huge part of the middle class. He also echoed the Biden’s recent praise of the automakers union and its role in U.S History. He said that the best solution is bargainning and could get to a good place.

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On the rage of the week about Biden’s comments about the likelihood of a strike, Karine Jean-Pierre, White House press secretary said that he believed that there will be no an automakers strike and they should have to continue talking about the issue.

In another report of  CNN, for the past two months, Gene Sperling, the White House’s point man on negotiations between the UAW and the Big 3, has been in constant contact with both the union leadership and the companies. Additionally, he maintains communication with officials in Michigan, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and members of Congress. That might prevent an automakers’ strike.

According to some acquainted with White House officials’ views, their responsibility extends beyond merely keeping an eye on the negotiations but falls well short of meddling. The sources claimed that Biden’s advisers had occasionally attempted to mediate disputes between the automakers and UAW.

According to a senior white house official that the president did not want intervention but he wanted engagement. The goal is to keep the four parties talking and to keep a win-win solution.

But at the same time, people close to Biden understand that he is a pro-union president who wants a deal that enables workers to support a family — and that everything should be done to prevent plant closures and put jobs back into communities during the transition to electric vehicles.

Indeed, one of Sperling’s main efforts has been to cultivate a relationship with the new leadership at the UAW, where Fain won election in March on a platform of taking a more aggressive stance in contract negotiations.

According to Rep. Pramila Jayapa chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus that the White House and the president are taking get care of the workers and fair shake and also believe in the deeply power of union including strike.

Jayapal continued, “Those are the ways in which, without dictating terms and being actively involved in saying what the resolution should be, I think just the presence and the monitoring and the encouragement and the pushing of the White House can often be very useful.” Jayapal was alluding to how Biden officials had handled contract negotiations in the past. Which happens to have an automakers’ strike.

The White House has also examined the potential economic effects of a strike and tried to comprehend all potential negotiations outcomes.

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A second White House official, who also requested anonymity to share the administration’s thinking, stated that it would be foolish not to consider the economic ramifications of all kinds of potential occurrences on a daily basis.

The primary Republican opponent to Biden, former President Donald Trump, is taking advantage of the opportunity to recruit autoworkers angry about the transition to electric vehicles in the hopes of repeating his unexpected success in Michigan in 2016. The former president’s campaign claimed this week that Biden’s plans “will murder the U.S. auto industry and kill countless union autoworker jobs forever,” months after he told the UAW that “you’d better endorse Trump.” That urges them to have an automakers’ strike.

Even as late as this month, Fain disclaimed support for Trump and criticized him. The AFL-CIO and other significant unions have already endorsed Biden, according to White House officials. Even said, Trump has previously been successful in garnering the support of disgruntled union members without the endorsement of their leadership.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Biden remarked on September 4. This assertion seems to represent a minority view, as many political insiders and business leaders anticipate a strike will occur.

The National Association of Manufacturers, the Motor Equipment and Manufacturers Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, GM, Ford, and Stellantis have either informed the White House on their position or intend to do so in the coming days. Business representatives have already given the White House a report that predicted 50 percent of suppliers will fail within two to three weeks of a strike, affecting about 345,000 jobs.

For this report, the UAW declined to comment. Fain, however, stated in a Facebook Live interview on Friday that if a settlement is not reached by Thursday night, “there will be a strike — at all three if need be.”

Jessica Enoch, a spokesman for Ford, said that “our focus is on reaching a deal that rewards our employees, allows for the continuation of Ford’s unique position as the most American automaker and enables Ford to invest and grow.”

A previously released statement from GM stated that although “we have progressed to more in-depth discussions,” “we still have work to do.”

The company, according to Stellantis, is focused on coming to a deal that “balances the concerns of our 43,000 employees with our vision for the future — one that better positions the business to meet the challenges of the U.S. marketplace and secures the future for all of our employees, their families, and our company.”

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The union is requesting a 32-hour work week, 40 percent salary increases over four years, and the restoration of traditional pensions for new workers, among other concessions. The automakers claim that giving in to those salary expectations would allow foreign competitors to take over the emerging electric vehicle industry.

GM filed an offer on Thursday that includes a 10 percent pay raise as well as additional lump sum compensation. It was rejected by Fain as “an insulting proposal that doesn’t even come close to an equitable agreement for America’s autoworkers.”

On August 31, Ford presented what company referred to as a “generous offer” to the union, which included a 9% wage rise over the course of the contract and a 6% increase in lump sum rewards.

Stellantis presented a proposal on Friday that includes a pay increase of 14.5% as well as “inflation protection” payments spread over the following four years.

Fain has also turned down those proposals.

Business organizations are openly pleading with the White House to get involved in preventing a strike.

According to John Drake, vice president of transportation, infrastructure, and supply chain technologies at the Chamber of Commerce, Biden’s “role right now is to make sure that all parties stay at the table and keep talking.” “The UAW may assert that the president has no right to participate in discussions. However, if these negotiations fail, there will be significant consequences for the country, and the president must take part in them.

Although they haven’t explicitly ruled it out, White House officials have said that it’s unlikely that Biden will become involved unless both sides want him to.

Last year, Biden and Congress took decisive action to prevent a rail strike that would have had a devastating economic impact. In doing so, they infuriated many union leaders by enforcing a contract that fell far short of their objectives. Even if he were willing to do so, he would have much less legal ability to stop an autoworkers’ strike.

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Progressive congressman Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who serves on the national advisory board for the Biden campaign, claimed to have spoken with Sperling and applauded his strategy.

He was quoted as saying, “He understands why we need to stand 100% with employees and has been doing all he can to keep the Big 3 accountable.

Nevertheless, Khanna is urging the Biden administration and other Democrats to support Fain “unequivocally”: “The White House and House Democrats must make it clear that the Big 3, which have received billions in subsidies from American taxpayers and seen their CEO pay go up 40 percent or more, need to provide a contract covering all EV and battery plants that pay workers a living wage.”

Sperling and other top White House officials participated in the Biden administration’s effort to allay the UAW’s concerns on the way it handled federal incentives for the production of electric automobiles.

Late in August, the Energy Department announced a $15.5 billion package of grants and loans to retool existing factories. The government said that priority will be given to businesses who have a history of high pay and employment standards or are likely to permit collective bargaining. Fain’s praise for the news, in contrast to his criticism of the same agency in June for lending Ford $9.2 billion for sites in right-to-work states Tennessee and Kentucky, is a sign of improved relations.

However, according to White House aides, it’s the manufacturers and union leaders who need to negotiate a settlement.

Despite the fact that the White House is “monitoring this closely,” John Podesta, the senior White House adviser overseeing efforts to implement the hundreds of billions in climate and clean energy incentives in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act, told reporters on Thursday that “ultimately it’s up to them to bargain.”

According to Jason Walsh, executive director of the Blue-Green Alliance, a coalition of environmental and labor groups, the UAW’s support for Biden’s clean energy program is in jeopardy due to reports that manufacturers are taking government subsidies to places with lower wages and little to no union presence.

That conflicts with a key part of the president’s “Bidenomics” campaign theme — his contention that subsidizing the shift away from fossil fuels will aid both the Earth’s climate and future of American manufacturing jobs.

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“For my coalition, union workers are not going to continue to support the policies necessary to make this clean energy shift if they are not benefiting from it directly and economically,” said Walsh, who also served in the Obama administration. “For them, the end of the month matters a whole lot more than the end of the world.”

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