Biden in tight spot with UAW asking him to join workers at picket lines

Business |  IANS  | Published :

Washington, Sep 22 (IANS) US President Joe Biden finds himself on a hot spot with United Auto Workers (UAW) union president Shawn Fain inviting him to stand alongside the workers at the picket lines as the near week-long strike escalated with a call to 38 other plants in 20 states to join in.

The UAW on Friday invited Biden to join the picket line in the union's strike against three Detroit automakers, thus putting the White House on the spot in an escalating dispute.

"We invite and encourage everyone who supports our cause to join us on the picket line from our friends and families all the way up to the President of the United States," Fain said on a Facebook Live broadcast.

"We invite you to join us in our fight”.

The UAW, which had supported Biden in the 2020 elections, was probably prompted by the President's statement a couple of days ago where he had said that he was on the side of labour as automakers had made enormous profits and that they ought to share it with the workers who make their cars. 

The striking workers could have also been encouraged by a large number of Democrats throwing in their lot with the labourers as Democratic Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman joined United Auto Workers members on the picket line after the unprecedented lightning strike by the UAW against GM, Ford and Stellantis (Chrysler).

The White House did not immediately respond to the UAW invite, media reports said. The UAW on Friday expanded its strike to include all 38 parts distribution facilities at General Motors and Stellantis -- but not additional plants at Ford, where negotiators have made progress.

The work stoppage began a week ago when the union shut down a GM plant in Missouri, a Ford factory in Michigan and a Stellantis site in Toledo, Ohio. Those plants remain on strike.Biden has called on the automakers to deliver "record contracts" after earning "record profits" in recent years, but he also said after the strike began that the automakers had made "significant offers".

The union responded by saying "the White House is afraid" of its movement. Biden wants the automakers to produce more electric vehicles to up his campaign on climate change. The union also wants more EVs, but is concerned it could lead to fewer unionised jobs.

The three Detroit automakers have a workforce of over 150,000 UAW-represented employees at dozens of factories in the US, making popular vehicles like the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and Jeep Wrangler.

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