Sunday, 1 October 2023

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Union president downplays Biden role in talks

Janet Yellen on the auto strikes: We want to see the two sides come to a win-win agreement

Breaking with the long-standing tradition of the “handshake ceremony” with the auto executives of the Big Three auto makers to open contract talks, United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain instead speaks with and does “members’ handshakes” with Stellantis workers at the Stellantis Sterling Heights Assembly Plant on July 12, 2023 in Sterling Heights, Michigan. The UAW opens auto contract negotiations with Stellantis today, Ford on July 14, and General Motors on July 18. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Bill Pugliano | Getty Images News | Getty Images

United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain on Monday said the White House will have no role in brokering an agreement to end the autoworkers’ strike as the walkout enters its fourth day with no resolution in sight.

“No, not at all,” Fain said when asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” whether the White House could help the union and General Motors, Ford and Stellantis reach a deal.

“This battle is not about the president,” Fain said. “It’s not about the former president or any other person prior to that. This battle is about the workers standing up for economic and social justice and getting their fair share because they’re fed up with going backwards.”

Fain’s comments come after President Joe Biden said on Friday that he would send acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and White House senior advisor Gene Sperling to Detroit to help mediate the negotiations.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told CNBC in an interview Monday that the White House wants a “win-win” deal. “The two sides need to narrow their disagreements and to work for a contract that’s good for the workers and for the industry as well,” Yellen said.

The strike has entered its fourth day with no resolution in sight. Nearly 13,000 UAW members are on strike at three key plants in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio.

Biden, who’s up for reelection next year, often touts his blue-collar roots and has sought to closely associate himself with the labor movement, but the strikes will test those credentials if the dispute is left unresolved and triggers broader economic disruption. Former President Donald Trump is also courting support from UAW members, while attacking the union’s leaders, as he pursues another term in the White House.

Biden largely sided with the striking workers in his brief address Friday, calling on the automakers to share the record profits they have made in recent years.

“Those record profits have not been shared fairly, in my view, with the workers,” the…

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