President Joe Biden on Friday offered his support to the United Auto Workers, as he addressed their strike aimed at the Big Three auto makers.
Auto companies have seen record profits because of the “extraordinary skill and sacrifices” of UAW workers, Biden said in a brief speech at the White House.
“Those record profits have not been shared fairly, in my view, with those workers,” the president added.
“The companies have made some significant offers, but I believe they should go further to ensure record corporate profits mean record contracts for the UAW,” he also said.
Biden gave his remarks after about 12,700 workers went on strike early Friday as their union and the Big Three automakers failed to reach an agreement before a contract expired.
The UAW so far has not endorsed Biden’s re-election bid, even as the AFL-CIO and other big unions have lined up behind the Democratic incumbent.
The presidential race in 2024 could be a rematch of 2020’s contest between Biden and former President Donald Trump, who has won over some union households that historically have backed Democrats like Biden rather than Republicans.
Biden got more support than Trump from union households in the battleground states of Michigan and Wisconsin in 2020, but Trump got more support from such households in Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to Edison Research exit polls.
Trump has seized on concerns that the car industry’s shift toward electric vehicles
which the Biden administration has promoted, could hurt American workers. “The all Electric Car is a disaster for both the United Auto Workers and the American Consumer,” the former president said Friday in a post on his Truth Social platform.
On Friday, Biden said he hopes the UAW and car companies “can return to the negotiation table to forge a win-win agreement,” and he said he’s sending two administration officials to Detroit — Julie Su, the acting secretary of labor, and Gene Sperling, a senior adviser.
GM posted a 2022 net profit of $11.04 billion, up from $10.38 billion in 2021, while Ford recorded a 2022 net profit of $7.62 billion, up from $6.43 billion in the prior year. For Stellantis, the parent company for brands such as Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep, last year’s net profit was $17.83 billion, up from $15.12 billion.
UAW President Shawn Fain said in a statement after Biden’s speech that union members “agree with Joe Biden when he says ‘record profits mean record contracts.’”
Fain also said: “Working people are not afraid. You know who’s afraid? The corporate media is afraid. The White House is afraid. The companies are afraid.”
Claudia Assis contributed.