President Joe Biden has dispatched a team to assist in resolving the strike between the largest autoworkers union in the United States and the Big Three auto companies. The team plans to be in Detroit early in the week to provide support during negotiations.
White House adviser Gene Sperling and Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su were appointed by the president to go to Detroit and help end the walkout by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, which began on Friday. Sperling has been leading efforts in dealing with key issues related to the union and the companies, while Su has been coordinating with him.
Both Sperling and Acting Secretary Su are currently engaging with the parties by phone, as they have been doing for weeks, with the intention of being present in Detroit for the negotiations. The administration is pleased that the parties are continuing to meet, despite the contract expiration.
The union and the companies are currently far apart on issues concerning salary increases and benefits. The goal of Su and Sperling is to support the negotiations, without acting as mediators or intervening. They want to provide any assistance that the parties feel is constructive.
President Biden has expressed his hope that both the UAW and the Big Three auto companies return to the negotiation table. He understands the frustrations of the workers, as they feel that the record profits of the companies have not been fairly shared with them.
Biden firmly believes in the workers’ right to strike and respects their use of options under the collective bargaining system. However, the strike poses a challenge for him as he considers himself “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.” While the UAW has traditionally supported Democratic candidates like Biden, former President Donald Trump gained support from blue-collar autoworkers.
The strike began at a General Motors site in Missouri, a Stellantis center in Ohio, and a Ford assembly plant in Michigan, with approximately 13,000 UAW members walking out at midnight on Friday. If all UAW members join the strike, the union has enough funds to provide strike pay for approximately 11 weeks.