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UAW workers on picket line get show of support from President Biden

Photo: The White House
 UAW workers on picket line get show of support from President Biden
By AFSCME Staff ·

For almost two weeks, members of the United Auto Workers have been on strike against the Big Three automakers. Their demands include significant wage increases, the reinstatement of cost-of-living protections, ending a two-tier system for wages and benefits, and job security in the electric vehicle transition.

On Tuesday, they received a strong show of support from no less than President Joe Biden.

Donning a UAW ballcap and grabbing a bullhorn, Biden told the auto workers that “you deserve the significant raise you need,” and urged them to “stick with it.” He said the UAW “saved the automobile industry back in 2008,” during the Great Recession, and that the workers made many sacrifices.

“You gave up a lot. And the companies were in trouble,” Biden said. “Now they’re doing incredibly well and guess what? You should be doing incredibly well.”

AFSCME stands in strong solidarity with UAW workers. On Friday, when the strike was expanded to 38 locations in 20 states, AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued a press statement declaring that “UAW workers are striking for all working people.”

“For decades, insatiable corporate greed has driven billionaires to take and take and take from hardworking Americans,” Saunders said. “It’s never enough for them, and we’re sick of it… . That is why we stand with UAW in this fight, and we will continue to be by their side until they get the dignity and respect they are owed.”

Labor historians said Biden’s show of support for striking union members was unprecedented in modern times, according to news reports. Not even pro-union presidents such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman ever joined an ongoing strike.

Since taking office, Biden has been a proud supporter of labor unions and a vocal advocate of working people. Less than two months after becoming president, he sent a strong message of support to Amazon workers in Alabama who were voting to form a union. Later that year, he said he intended to “aggressively defend” both labor unions and collective bargaining after an announcement by the Kellogg Company that it would permanently replace striking workers.

Biden has taken executive action to increase worker power, including creating the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment. And he has appointed members to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) who protect the right of workers to organize in the workplace.

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