Obama Gives Support To UAW Workers Striking ‘Big Three’ Automakers

The former president, whose administration once bailed two of the companies out, said it’s time for car manufacturers to “do right” by workers.

The United Auto Workers union, currently undertaking a major strike, has garnered the support of former President Barack Obama who said it is time for the manufacturers to “do right” by workers, The Hill reports.

On Saturday (September 16), Obama took to social media to stand in solidarity with the striking autoworkers.

“Fourteen years ago, when the big three automakers were struggling to stay afloat, my administration and the American people stepped in to support them,” Obama wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “So did the auto workers in the UAW who sacrificed pay and benefits to help get the companies back on their feet.”

In 2009, the Obama administration followed the Bush White House the prior year in bailing out General Motors and Fiat, which at the time owned Chrysler $80 billion to avoid a massive collapse, which analysts said would result in millions of jobs in the U.S.

But between the ‘Big Three,’ GM, Ford, and Stellantis – the current parent of Chrysler, the manufacturers have made a combined $250 billion in profits, according to the UAW.

“Now that our carmakers are enjoying robust profits, it’s time to do right by those same workers so the industry can emerge more united and competitive than ever,” he continued.

For the first time in the union’s history, the UAW, which boasts more than 146,000 members nationwide, went on strike simultaneously against the “Big Three” automakers, General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis after negotiations stalled on Friday (Sept. 15) as workers’ contracts expired. The UAW is seeking increased wages, a 32-hour work week, and better retirement benefits.”

Following the expiration of the four-year labor deal between the UAW and the “Big Three” on Thursday evening, around 13,000 UAW members went on strike at a Stellantis Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio, a General Motors plant in Wentzville, Mo, and a Ford factory in Wayne, Mich., Newsweek reported.

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Shawn Fain, President of the UAW said that he anticipates a new contract that would be beneficial for the auto workers who are extremely vital to the industry.

“We are committed to winning an agreement with the Big Three that reflects the incredible sacrifice and contributions UAW members have made to these companies,” Fain said in a statement on Thursday (September 14).

Per the report, Stellantis has upped its offer to nearly 21 percent over a four-and-a-half-year contract term which includes a 10 percent increase to wages,  effective immediately. GM and Ford are both offering a 20 percent pay increase over the same contract length.

During the strike, auto workers will be compensated about $500 a week from UAW's $825 million strike fund.

"The locals that are not yet called to join the stand-up strike will continue working under an expired agreement," Fain said, noting that workers at other plants may strike if an agreement is not made in the coming days.

The strike is the first work stoppage since 2019 when auto workers walked out on GM.

On Friday, President Joe Biden also expressed his support for the UAW saying that the “Big Three” have seen a record increase in profits but that "those record profits have not been shared fairly" with auto workers.

"No one wants to strike," Biden said on Friday. "But I respect workers' right to use their options under the collective bargaining system and I understand the workers' frustration."

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