President Biden said Friday that record-high corporate profits should be shared with workers, hours after the United Auto Workers (UAW) went on a historic strike.
Biden said that while he appreciates that the Big Three automakers have been working to make a deal on workers’ contracts with UAW, they failed to reach an agreement because the companies didn’t offer enough.
“I believe they should go further. … Record corporate profits, which they have, should be shared by record contracts for the UAW,” Biden said in remarks at the White House.
“Let’s be clear, no one wants a strike. No one wants a strike. But I respect workers’ rights to use their options under the collective bargaining system and I understand the workers’ frustration,” he added.
Negotiations between the UAW and Ford, Stellantis and General Motors have been focused on pay increases, pensions and career security, while workers also have concerns about electric vehicles (EVs) and how a shift toward them could affect their jobs and pay.
Biden said he is dispatching acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling to Detroit to talk to both sides over the strike.
He also hailed American auto workers for their decades of contributions to the U.S. economy. The praise comes as the union has not yet endorsed Biden in 2024, arguing in May that it has concerns over the White House’s focus on EVs. The union made clear at the time that it doesn’t plan to endorse former President Trump, the front-runner for the GOP nomination.
“Over generations, auto workers sacrificed so much to keep the industry alive and strong, especially through economic crises and the pandemics. Workers deserve a fair share of the benefits they helped create for an enterprise,” Biden said.
He said that UAW members have demonstrated “extraordinary skill and sacrifices” and that the union is “at the heart of our economy.” He added that a transition to EVs should be “fair and a win-win for auto workers and auto companies.”
“It’s my hope that the parties can return to the negotiation table,” the president said. “The bottom line is that auto workers helped create America’s middle class. They deserve a contract that sustains them and the middle class.”
Biden on Thursday evening, ahead of the strike, had spoken with UAW head Shawn Fain, and leaders of major auto companies.