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Obama, Dems Line Up Behind UAW as Strike Continues

MATTHEW HATCHER
MATTHEW HATCHER

Saturday passed with no breakthrough in negotiations between major automakers and organized labor, despite the intervention of President Joe Biden’s administration and multiple politicians declaring their support for the small-scale strike action launched after workers’ contract expired early Friday.

According to Reuters, the United Auto Workers said they had “reasonably productive discussions” with Ford, while Stellantis—better known by its former name, Chrysler—said it had failed to end the walk-off at one of its plants in Illinois. Talks with General Motors reportedly remain underway.

The majority of the union’s members remain on the job, as the UAW has “targeted” its actions only at certain critical facilities.

Ex-President Barack Obama has weighed in, calling on car manufacturers to take care of their employees.

“Now that our carmakers are enjoying robust profits, it’s time to do right by those same workers so the industry can emerge more united and competitive than ever,” Obama said.

On the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, Obama recalled the controversial government bailout of the car giants now facing a labor action during the late-2000s financial crisis. The extension of more than $80 billion in federal assistance began in late 2008 under Obama’s predecessor, then-President George W. Bush, and was coupled with wage and benefit concessions from the UAW—which the union now seeks to reverse.

Although the policy began under Bush, Obama reaped both the political whirlwind and the political rewards from the bailout, widely credited with saving the American auto industry.

Obama’s comments followed remarks from President Joe Biden, who also noted large industry profits, and urged the companies to share their wealth.

Other Democrats took a stronger stance, with Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman announcing on Twitter he was headed to Michigan to join one of the picket lines.

On the Republican side, indicted Rep. George Santos brought his uniquely chaotic energy to an endorsement of the strike.

Santos’ Long Island-based district hosts the union hall of UAW Local 259, representing largely car dealership workers.

Ford and GM have confirmed to NBC that they have returned to the negotiating table with the UAW as the strike enters its second day.

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