President Biden spoke with the head of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union and leaders of major auto companies Thursday as the two sides seek to avert a strike over a contract dispute.
The White House said Biden spoke with Shawn Fain, president of UAW, and the company leaders “to discuss the status of ongoing negotiations.”
Biden’s involvement came hours before a deadline for the two sides to reach an agreement before auto workers are poised to go on strike at a handful of factories unless General Motors, Ford and Stellantis meet their demands.
Fain has said a small percentage of the union’s nearly 150,000 members would walk off the job at 11:59 p.m. EDT Thursday without a deal.
The union is asking for 36 percent raises in general pay over four years, as well as an end to differing wage tiers for factory jobs and the restoration of benefit pensions for new hires, among other changes.
Also at issue is the union’s representation and benefits for workers at electric vehicle battery factories, an issue that has bubbled up as the Biden administration has pushed to incentivize the use of electric vehicles.
Automakers argue the proposals are neither affordable nor realistic, especially as they make massive investments in the transition to electric vehicles.
A strike would deal a major blow to Biden, who frequently touts himself as the most pro-union president in history and who has for months argued the economy is strong and getting stronger. A strike could jeopardize economic gains and damage Biden’s reputation for working closely with unions.
Source: The Hill