Biden says substantial auto staff strike is ‘unlikely’: claims the union threat wants less work and a 46% pay rise

President Joe Biden has downplayed the possibility of a substantial autoworkers strike in the near future. The United Auto Workers (UAW) union, representing around 150,000 members, had voted in favor of a strike if an agreement couldn’t be reached with the Detroit Three automakers – Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. UAW President Shawn Fain has advocated for a four-day work week and a 46 percent pay increase, citing the record profits of these companies. The current four-year contract is set to expire on September 14.

President Biden, upon arriving in Philadelphia to deliver a Labor Day speech, expressed his lack of concern about a potential strike, stating, “I don’t think it’s going to happen.” Following the strike authorization vote, Fain criticized auto company executives for benefiting while the laborers were left behind, emphasizing the stark contrast between executive wealth and worker conditions.

In response to the strike threat, Ford Motors offered union workers a 9 percent raise, which Fain deemed insufficient. He argued that members’ high expectations were driven by the substantial profits of the Big Three automakers, making it challenging to accept a mediocre contract.

Despite the automotive industry’s significant profits, it faces uncertainty due to the shift toward electric vehicles (EVs), with the president aiming for 50 percent of new car sales to be EVs by 2030. Although EVs may require fewer assembly workers, a study from Carnegie Mellon University suggests that they demand more labor hours, particularly for battery production. While battery production has historically occurred in Asia, more companies are moving their production to the United States, albeit with lower wages and non-UAW employment.

Former President Donald Trump, who is currently seeking the GOP nomination, criticized President Biden’s push for electric vehicles, asserting that it would benefit China. Trump suggested that American jobs would be lost, and he urged union workers not to pay their dues, claiming that all cars would be manufactured in China.

Despite the industry’s changing landscape, President Biden remains committed to preserving and expanding good union jobs, particularly in auto manufacturing, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a middle-class career with decent pay. The debate over the future of autoworkers and the automotive industry continues amid these shifting dynamics.

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