UAW President Shawn Fain responded to President Joe Biden’s opposition to a possible strike against Detroit automakers in an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Fain stressed that the union’s aim is to reach an agreement with the automakers and that it does not intend to delay negotiations until the last minute. Around 150,000 workers in the auto industry are expected to have their contracts expire on September 14 and the union expects a solution by that date. However, Fain stated that action will be taken, implying the possibility of a strike if no agreement is reached within that timeframe.
As for the union’s approval of Biden’s 2020 presidential nomination, Fain noted that the decision will be made when members and leadership feel the timing is right. The union has concerns about the auto industry’s transition to electric vehicles, particularly over job security, pay and organisation. Fain stressed that permits are earned, not given voluntarily, and there is still work to be done to address these concerns.
Regarding the transition to electric vehicles, Fain acknowledged Biden’s intent to create well-paying union jobs, but also expressed the need for a just transition that does not result in slow wage increases or a race to the bottom. He criticized former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign elections when he suggested moving jobs to places with lower wages. Fain made it clear that he doesn’t want a president like Trump.
Fain also commented on Trump’s recent call for auto workers to stop paying their union dues, stating that Trump is part of the billionaire class and doesn’t really represent working-class people. He urged UAW members to take this into account when voting.
As negotiations continue, General Motors issued a statement saying it had moved into more detailed talks and offered wage increases over and above an earlier 2019 deal. However, Fain called GM’s offer offensive and unfair to the workers on the car. Stellantis, another major automaker, said talks with the UAW have been constructive and cooperative. Ford issued a press release saying that nearly 8,000 of its UAW-represented employees had ratified a new contract.
Overall, the UAW is seeking an agreement that addresses the concerns of auto workers and ensures a just transition to electric vehicles. They are committed to negotiations with the three Detroit automakers and stand ready to take action if needed.