WASHINGTON — United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain said his union’s endorsement has to be “earned” by President Joe Biden, as the labor union of auto industry workers continues to strike over contract dispute and a swath of demands, including increased wages and a reduced work week.
About 13,000 UAW members in Michigan, Ohio and Missouri went on strike last week after their contracts expired. The strike is targeting specific plants of Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Stellantis.
Biden, who has often described himself the most pro-union president in American history, has defended the workers’ right to strike and urged the companies to share their profits with workers.
“The bottom line is that auto workers helped create America’s middle class,” Biden said in a speech last week. “They deserve a contract that sustains them and the middle class.”
But Fain said UAW is expecting “action, not words” as negotiations continue between union leaders and the auto companies.
“Our endorsements are gonna be earned, we’ve been very clear about that,” Fain said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “We expect action, not words.”
“Who the president is now, who the former president was or the presidents before them isn’t going to win this fight. This fight is all about one thing: it’s about workers winning their fair share of economic justice instead of being left behind as they have been in the last decades.,” Fain added.
The historic strike could have a vast impact depending on how long it drags on. Ten states would take the brunt of any economic impact, which includes job losses, according to a report by University of Michigan economists.
Nine have assembly plant runs by the three automakers, according to the report. The states listed in descending order of production are: Michigan, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas and Tennessee. New York does not have any assembly plants, but it is home to a Ford Stamping plant, two GM component plants, and a GM engine plant.
Presidential hopeful and former Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday sought to lay the blame for the strike on Biden.
The strike is a display of the “failed reality of Bidenomics,” Pence said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” referring to the political slogan the White House has adopted to tout Biden’s economic agenda.
But Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., praised Biden for publicly calling on the auto companies to share their profits with workers and said he has “made it clear which side he is on in the struggle.”
“Corporate profits for the automakers are soaring and that they have got to use those profits to benefit their employees,” the Vermont progressive said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “(Biden) has made the point many, many times that a strong labor movement benefits all of us.”
Contributing: Susan Tompor, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: UAW strike 2023: Biden has to earn auto union endorsement, leader says