A Real-Time Test of Biden’s Economic Agenda: The UAW Strike
According to White House advisers, the resolution of the conflict between the auto industry and its employees will support many of the president’s policy stances.
President Biden reportedly pushed all sides of the conflict to remain at the bargaining table, according to aides.Brittany Greeson is to be credited for The New York Times.
It’s unusual for so many facets of a president’s political persona to come together in one area.
The United Auto Workers’ strike on Friday is a real-time test of President Biden’s economic agenda, which includes his call for higher wages for the middle class, his unwavering support for unions, and his push to reimagine an electric vehicle future for automakers — centered in Michigan, a state he must win in 2024 to keep his position as president.
The president has warned that the Republican plan is a darker version of trickle-down economics that primarily benefits the wealthy, and the targeted strike by some of the 150,000 union members is intended to disrupt one of America’s oldest industries at a time when Mr. Biden is highlighting the differences between what opponents and allies refer to as “Bidenomics” and the Republican plan.
Just hours before the union decided to strike, Mr. Biden said on Thursday that “their plan” (MAGAnomics) was “more extreme than anything America has ever seen.”
The president’s arguments about the need to reduce income inequality, the advantages of giving employees more power, and the surge in profits for businesses like the automakers that allows them to afford higher salaries will be strengthened, according to Mr. Biden’s aides at the White House.
The middle class has to be rebuilt, and things need to be rebuilt here, according to Eddie Vale, a lifelong Democratic strategist who formerly worked for the AFL-CIO. You have employment, green technologies, and energy. You have states that are significant for the election. As a result, everything is jumbled up here in a whirl.
There are political and policy dangers, Mr. Vale acknowledged, but he added: “Biden will be able to play a role as an honest broker here in the end.”
These dangers were starting to become obvious Friday morning. The president of the US Chamber of Commerce blamed Mr. Biden for the strike in a stinging statement.
According to Suzanne P. Clark, head of the biggest corporate lobbying organization in the country, “the U.A.W. strike and in fact the’summer of strikes’ is the natural result of the Biden administration’s ‘whole of government’ approach to promoting unionization at all costs.”
The strike, according to her prediction, would have “far-reaching negative consequences for our economy.”
Mr. Biden lacks a particular legal right to interfere, unlike earlier strikes involving train employees or air traffic controllers. He is not in charge of the situation right now, but he is also not merely a spectator.
Mr. Biden contacted Shawn Fain, the U.A.W. president, as well as key officials from the auto manufacturers just before the strike vote. According to aides, the president encouraged both sides to remain at the bargaining table and instructed the parties to make sure that employees get a fair deal.
That didn’t take place. According to economists, a protracted strike that lasts for many weeks or even months might be detrimental to the American economy, particularly in the center of the nation.
The way Mr. Biden handles the problem may have a big influence on his chances of winning re-election. Just 39% of respondents to a CNN survey conducted earlier this month approved of the job he is doing as president, and 58% felt his policies had worsened rather than improved the country’s economic situation.
Another important aspect of the strike is that it is concentrated in Michigan. With little more than 50% of the vote, Mr. Biden defeated former President Donald J. Trump in the state. Mr. Biden would not have beaten his opponent without the 16 electoral votes that the state provided.
However, the president’s stance on measures pertaining to the environment and labor remains unchanged. In a speech on Labor Day in Philadelphia, Vice President Biden reaffirmed his support for unions as well as his vision for what he termed a “transition to an electric vehicle future made in America” (which he said would safeguard employment).
He said, “You know, a lot of politicians in this country don’t even know how to utter the term ‘union. “They discuss labor, but they exclude the word “union.” It says “union.” I’m a proud member of the “union.” I take pride in being the president who is most pro-labor.