WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Friday that he hopes the United Auto Workers union and the Big Three auto companies return to the negotiating table to forge “a win-win agreement.”
“Let’s be clear, no one wants a strike,” Biden said in remarks from the White House after talks between both parties collapsed and union workers went on strike against the automakers at midnight.
“But I respect workers’ right to use their options under the collective bargaining system,” he said.
Biden said he understands workers’ frustration and stressed that while auto companies have seen “record profits,” those profits “have not been shared fairly, in my view, with those workers.”
He said he wants there to be a “win-win” deal for both auto workers and auto companies “that promotes good strong middle class jobs that workers can raise a family on.”
Biden also said he’s dispatching White House economic adviser Gene Sperling and Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su to Detroit “to offer their full support for the parties” in reaching a contract.” Sperling, who has been serving as the point person on key issues related to the labor union and auto companies, has been coordinating with Su.
Members of the union went on strike at midnight and walked out at three plants: a General Motors site in Missouri; a Stellantis center in Ohio; and a Ford assembly plant in Michigan.
Former President Donald Trump slammed Biden earlier this week, alleging that his successor was attacking “American labor and American auto workers.”
Ammar Moussa, a spokesperson for the 2024 Biden-Harris campaign, fired back in a statement on Friday. “Donald Trump will say literally anything to distract from his long record of breaking promises and failing America’s workers,” Moussa wrote. “Under Trump, autoworkers shuttered their doors and sent American jobs overseas. Under Trump, auto companies would have likely gone bankrupt, devastating the industry and upending millions of lives.”
The White House has said that Biden has been closely following the developments of the talks and was briefed twice a day on their status while he was traveling last week in India and Vietnam.
Before he left for Asia, Biden spoke to the executives of the Big Three automakers by phone and urged them to stay at the negotiating table, the White House said.
Biden, who has promised to be the most pro-union president, had hosted UAW president Shawn Fain in the Oval Office in mid-July, and the two spoke again on Labor Day. The White House said Thursday in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Biden had spoken with Fain again as well as the leaders of the three major auto companies.
White House officials have stressed that Biden believes in collective bargaining and has wanted a deal that bolsters middle-class jobs.
Before the strike, Biden said in remarks on Labor Day that he wasn’t worried about a UAW strike “until it happens.”
Fain, however, warned in an interview on MSNBC last week that a strike could actually happen, saying, “It’s looking that way.”