Democrats looking to bag seats in the 2020 election show solidarity with autoworkers as they strike for the betterment of their wages and benefits.
On Sunday, about 48,000 United Auto Workers went on strike due to contract talks with General Motors breaking down. Picket lines were set up in 33 plants across the country, posing a multi-million dollar loss for the company due to work interruption.
“Today, we stand strong and say with one voice, we are standing up for our members and for the fundamental rights of working-class people in this nation,” UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said.
Dialogue between union and GM resumed on Monday, with UAW using the strike as a last resort to demand a new four-year contract, fairer wages, and health care, among other things.
Amidst the bargaining, Democrats aiming to oppose Trump in the 2020 elections show support for UAW. Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg eagerly expressed their solidarity for a key constituency. Despite the weak political strength of unions, the notion hopes to gain the support of the working class.
Democrats Eyeing Trump’s Broken Promises to Workers
Besides supporting United Auto Workers, Democrats also aim to put pressure on the current president in a swing state, Michigan. Officials use the strike to show that Trump has failed in his promise to protect manufacturing jobs in the Midwest. And although he has jeered unions before, he still earned the votes of union households in 2016.
If the strike holds out longer, it can affect the 2020 election results in Michigan, where Trump won by a clutch in 2016.
In his presidential campaign, Trump promised to overtake trade deals to stop the detrimental effect of importation on manufacturing jobs. It was a promise that helped him earn clutch wins in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Despite his statement saying that unions are “due sucking” organizations, Trump beat his Republican competitors for union household votes in 2016.
On Sunday, Trump posted the following tweet: “Here we go again with General Motors and the United Auto Workers,” Trump wrote. “Get together and make a deal!”
Democrats who are opposing to a second Trump presidency, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., released statements in support of UAW. The Democratic contenders praised the union for going on strike while putting down GM for prioritizing profits over their workers.
“I am proud to support the UAW workers who are standing up to the greed of GM,” Sen. Sanders tweeted last Sunday. “Our message to GM is a simple one: End the greed, sit down with the UAW, and work out an agreement that treats our workers with the respect and dignity they deserve.”
Sen. Warren issued a similar statement: “Autoworkers deserve good wages, comprehensive benefits, and economic security. I stand with UAW as they strike to get what they deserve, and urge GM to come to the table and negotiate in good faith.”
General Motors’ Response
GM released a statement on Sunday defending its most recent negotiation to the union. They claim that it is a “strong offer that improves” workers’ benefits and wages, and “grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways.” The company is disappointed that the union leaders chose to strike.
In the proposal, GM plans to include $7 billion in investments, and wage hikes or lump sum pay raises every year in the four-year contract. It also plans to include Michigan and Ohio that had stopped operations.
“We have negotiated in good faith and with a sense of urgency,” GM stated in an email. “Our goal remains to build a strong future for our employees and our business.”
They refuse to comment on the criticism they had received from the Democratic party members.
Federal Prosecution of Pearson
Democrats that support the strike are careful to show praise to the individual members of the union instead of the UAW itself. This is mostly due to the recent federal prosecution of UAW Region 5 Director Vance Pearson who was charged with conspiracy to steal union dues.
UAW President Gary Jones has been reportedly implicated as well but has not been charged with anything.
Amidst the ongoing federal probe of Pearson, the strike comes at a rocky period for the union. Federal prosecutors stated that Pearson and other union officials planned to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from the UAW. These charges, along with the implication of Jones, raises doubts about the credibility of the union.
Despite the ongoing investigation, union workers plan to continue its patterned bargaining with the automaker. In this manner of negotiation, the UAW negotiates with the first company and uses this first contract framework to bargain with the other two.
As they focus on their negotiations with GM, the union signed indefinite extensions with two other carmakers: Fiat Chrysler and Ford Motor.