Biden says striking UAW workers deserve 'fair share' of record automaker profits

The president said he hopes both sides can forge a "win-win" agreement.

September 15, 2023, 3:48 PM

President Joe Biden on Friday offered support to United Auto Workers union members amid their strike against the Big 3 U.S. automakers.

"I believe they should go further to ensure record corporate profits mean record contracts for the UAW," Biden said in brief remarks at the White House. "Let me say it again. Record corporate profits, which they have, should be shared by record contracts for the UAW."

The United Auto Workers or UAW, started a strike early Friday morning against General Motors, Ford and Stellantis. Nearly 13,000 workers walked out of three auto plants in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio.

Biden said he understood the "frustration" of workers who helped keep the industry afloat during the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis.

"Workers deserve a fair share of the benefits they helped create for an enterprise," he said.

The strike will be a political test for Biden, who says he's the most pro-union president in history, and his economic agenda heading into 2024.

Economists previously told ABC News a strike could result in billions of dollars in losses, disruption to the supply chain and other financial consequences.

"It's my hope that the parties can return to the negotiation table to forge a win-win agreement," Biden said Friday.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the contract negotiations between the United Auto Workers and auto companies in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, Sept. 15, 2023.
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

President Biden previously predicted the union would not strike. He told reporters after celebrating workers in a Labor Day speech in Philadelphia that he wasn't "worried about a strike until it happens. I don't think it's going to happen."

Biden spoke with UAW president Shawn Fain and leaders of the auto companies on Thursday to discuss ongoing negotiations hours before the midnight deadline.

But by 10 p.m., Fain said workers were prepared to strike if a deal wasn't reached. Sticking points in negotiations were wage increases and the length of the workweek.

UAW boasts nearly 150,000 members but not all are walking out of the job at once. The union is utilizing a "stand-up" strike method to target specific plants and add to the list if a deal isn't reached.

"This strategy will keep the companies guessing," Fain said. "It will give our national negotiators maximum leverage and flexibility in bargaining. And if we need to go all out, we will. Everything is on the table."

The president is deploying acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and White House senior adviser Gene Sperling to Detroit to offer their support for the parties in reaching an agreement.

"The bottom line is that auto workers who create America's middle class, they deserve a contract that sustains them in the middle class," Biden said.

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