President Joe Biden has publicly expressed optimism that there will be no strike when auto workers’ contracts with America’s three major auto companies expire. However, White House officials privately acknowledge the likelihood of a strike and are actively engaging with both sides in the labor dispute. This labor dispute has important political implications for President Biden, who has presented himself as a pro-union president and has based his 2024 campaign on his handling of the economy.
Shawn Fain, president of the United Auto Workers (UAW), has raised the possibility of a simultaneous strike against General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, which would have increased economic impact. The UAW is demanding that workers share in the benefits of the federally subsidized transition to electric vehicles, an aspect of President Biden’s clean energy spending initiative aimed at addressing climate change and creating jobs in America’s manufacturing sector.
The possible strike could coincide with a federal government shutdown if a tentative agreement on spending is not reached by September 30. This would increase the wave of strikes during the Biden era and worsen the economic consequences. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg expressed concern and encouraged the parties to find a solution. The White House was actively involved in monitoring the negotiations and sought common ground between the auto companies and the UAW.
Although the administration is seeking a “win-win” solution, President Biden has made it clear that he wants an agreement that supports workers and prevents factory closures during the transition to electric vehicles. The White House has analyzed the economic impact of a possible strike and considered all possible outcomes of the negotiations. Former President Donald Trump, a possible 2024 Republican nominee, is using the opportunity to take autoworkers frustrated by the transition to electric vehicles to court.
Despite President Biden’s optimism, many political experts and industry representatives expect a strike. The business community, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and major automakers, have briefed the White House on their prospects.