‘The White House Is Afraid’: Union President Swipes At Biden Over UAW Strike


United Auto Workers union President Shawn Fain contested President Joe Biden’s description of negotiations between the union and the Big Three auto manufacturers, accusing the White House, the companies and corporate media of being “afraid” of the strike in a statement Friday.

Key Facts

Fain said he agrees with Biden’s sentiment that “record profits” for the companies should equate to “record contracts,” but disagrees that “negotiations have broken down,” insisting that leadership at the companies and the UAW “are hard at work at the bargaining table.”

Fain also accused “the media” of using “fear tactics about how we’re going to wreck the economy . . . the truth is we are going to wreck the billionaire economy,” he said.

While largely enjoying unequivocal support from unions, Biden has been treated with suspicion by the UAW because of his outspoken support of electric vehicles, which he belives is important to combat climate change, but the union is afraid will lead to fewer jobs.

Fain issued the statement shortly after Biden spoke from the White House following a strike that began at midnight Thursday, when about 13,000 UAW workers walked out of General Motors plants in Missouri, a Stellantis plant in Ohio and a Ford plant in Michigan.

Biden strongly defended the union and said it’s his “hope the parties can return to the negotiating table to forge a win-win agreement,” adding “record corporate profits, which they have, should be shared by record corporate contracts for the UAW.”

Big Number

$5.6 billion. That’s the total economic loss from a 10-day UAW strike, according to an August estimate from Anderson Economic Group, including a $3.5 billion in lost wages and production and $2.1 billion for consumers and dealers.

Crucial Quote

“Working people are not afraid. You know who’s afraid? The corporate media is afraid. The White House is afraid. The companies are afraid,” Fain said.

Key Background

The union began the targeted strike after its current contract with the Big Three expired and the companies have refused to meet their demand for a 36% wage increase over four years. The strike puts Biden in a politically thorny situation as he lobbies the union for its endorsement in his re-election campaign at a time when autoworkers are concerned about his emphasis on transitioning to electric vehicles. Fain in May told members the union was withholding its endorsement of Biden and said he relayed auto manufacturing workers’ concerns about potential job loss due to an increase in electric vehicle manufacturing to the White House. The union has also taken issue with the Biden Administration for giving tax breaks to nonunion electric vehicle manufacturers.

Further Reading

Biden Strongly Defends Auto Workers In First Remarks After Strike (Forbes)

UAW Goes On Strike Against Big Three Automakers (Forbes)

UAW Union Approves Potential Strike At Ford, GM And Stellantis—Here’s What A Strike Would Mean (Forbes)

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