President Joe Biden is calling on major U.S. automakers and their union members to come together and prevent plant shutdowns that could be painful, as the industry moves towards electric vehicles.
Despite receiving extensive support from organized labor, the president has not yet been approved by the United Auto Workers for his reelection campaign. The UAW represents 146,000 workers at Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis automakers, who have contracts that expire on September 14th.
Biden stated on Monday that the auto industry must continue to provide good jobs that can support a family and ensure fair transitions by retooling, rebooting or reacquainting employees with similar backgrounds and wages, while also giving priority to existing workers for those positions.
The UAW played a crucial role in creating the American middle class, and Biden believes that it should be protected by retaining responsibilities.
GM has stated that they are currently in talks with the UAW to create a contract that ensures job security, high wages, and benefits for employees, as well as competitive advantages for companies both domestically and internationally.
Shawn Fain, the union’s president, has called for an end to different wage levels among workers. He also wants double-digital pay increases, a return to cost-of-living pay, defined benefit pensions for all employees, and the reinstatement of retiree health insurance. The union also proposed extending the workweek to 32 hours, instead of the traditional 40.
Automakers have acknowledged the possibility of a strike and revealed that they are dealing with significant expenses in developing their own vehicles, as the industry shifts to EVs and spends billions of dollars on battery plant construction.