Donald Trump is planning to go to Detroit and make a speech to union members instead of participating in the second Republican presidential primary debate next week. It looks like he’ll be doing that amid an autoworkers strike that is escalating, not wrapping up: The UAW will expand its strike on Friday if negotiations with Ford, Stellantis, and General Motors remain stalled at that point, the union’s president, Shawn Fain, announced Monday night.
“I have been clear with the Big Three every step of the way. And I’m going to be crystal clear again right now,” Fain said in a statement. “If we don’t make serious progress by noon on Friday, September 22nd, more locals will be called on to Stand Up and join the strike. That will mark more than a week since our first members walked out. And that will mark more than a week of the Big Three failing to make progress in negotiations toward reaching a deal that does right by our members.”
But Fain isn’t embracing Trump’s visit, even for leverage in the strike.
“Every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers,” Fain said in a statement shared with news organizations. “We can’t keep electing billionaires and millionaires that don’t have any understanding what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to get by and expecting them to solve the problems of the working class.”
The autoworkers have emphasized throughout contract negotiations that they have been losing out in contrast to their companies’ highly paid CEOs and in relation to corporate profits. In a video message announcing the planned a Friday expansion of the strike, Fain again laid out some of those numbers.
Fain said that the Big Three “made $21 billion in profits in the first half of this year. The Big Three CEOs have increased their already massive salaries by an average of 40% over the last four years, while the companies have poured billions into stock buybacks and special dividends to enrich Wall Street.”
He then contrasted that with how the companies have treated customers and workers. “Car companies are fleecing consumers right now,” he said. “In the past four years, the average price of a new car is up 30%. You think UAW wages are driving that increase? Think again. Our pay has risen a mere 6% over the past four years. Due to inflation, an auto worker today is making less in real wages than we made 20 years ago. That’s why we have chosen to stand up.”
The UAW is ready to negotiate, Fain said, suggesting that the companies have been dragging their feet. “We gave the companies our economic demands eight weeks ago. It took them more than a month to get to the table. We had to file federal charges against two of them at the labor board to get them to start bargaining in good faith.”
Trump will doubtless go into Detroit with big promises about what he can do for working people, just as he told Ohio workers in 2016 that he would save jobs at factories like GM’s Lordstown plant, only to have those promises turn out like every other one Trump makes. Some workers will keep buying those lines from Trump, or will embrace him for his racial politics or his bluster. But Trump’s record tells the tale: He’s not going to do anything for union workers.
Sen. Tim Scott, trailing Trump in the Republican presidential primary, would do worse than nothing for striking UAW workers. “I think Ronald Reagan gave us a great example when federal employees decided they were going to strike,” Scott told the audience at an Iowa campaign event. “He said, you strike, you’re fired. Simple concept to me. To the extent that we can use that once again, absolutely.”
Scott is making a pitch for the big Republican donors there, advertising that he’d be their guy all the way. As a plutocrat himself, Trump can pretend to take a different stance. But his big talk has never been matched by action.
By contrast, while President Joe Biden has not been out front on the UAW strike, he did repeat, in remarks Friday, a key part of the UAW’s message going into these contract negotiations: “Record corporate profits — which they have — should be shared by record contracts for the UAW.”
Add your name: Solidarity with United Auto Workers! #StandUpUAW
Kerry talks with Drew Linzer, director of the online polling company Civiqs. Drew tells us what the polls say about voters’ feelings toward President Joe Biden and Donald Trump, and what the results would be if the two men were to, say … run against each other for president in 2024. Oh yeah, Drew polled to find out who thinks Donald Trump is guilty of the crimes he’s been indicted for, and whether or not he should see the inside of a jail cell.