As about 46,000 UAW workers went on strike at General Motors at midnight, presidential candidates and other Democratic officials lined up to support them.
This is the first strike since 2007. Amid a wave of layoffs, the UAW said it’s fighting to secure fair wages, affordable health care, increased profit sharing, job security and a “defined path” to seniority for temporary workers.
GM reportedly offered $7 billion in new investment that included rebooting “unallocated” assembly plants in Michigan and Ohio, as well as an improved profit-sharing formula, wage increases and other benefits.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) looks to be the first presidential contender to have weighed in with his support on Sunday afternoon.
“I am proud to support the UAW workers who are standing up to the greed of General Motors. General Motors is not a poor company. It is a company that received a $50 billion taxpayer bailout in 2008. It is a company which, over the last 4 years, spent $25 billion buying back its own stock and paying out dividends,” he said.
“It is a company that made over $4 billion in profits last year, paid nothing in federal income taxes and provided a huge compensation package for its CEO. Today, our message to General Motors is a simple one: End the greed, sit down with the UAW and work out an agreement that treats your workers with the respect and the dignity they deserve.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted his support, writing that a “job is about a lot more than a paycheck”:
A job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It's about dignity and respect.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 15, 2019
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote on Twitter that she urges “GM to come to the table and negotiate in good faith”:
Auto workers deserve good wages, comprehensive benefits, and economic security. I stand with @UAW as they strike to get what they deserve, and urge GM to come to the table and negotiate in good faith. https://t.co/VRmL7VzSzt
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) September 16, 2019
South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg tweeted he was “proud to stand” with workers:
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) September 16, 2019
Businessman Tom Steyer said his “work has always been with labor as a partner, and that is why I stand with UAW members who have spent their careers working tirelessly to ensure General Motors produces quality automobiles at a profit. Last year those workers enabled GM to turn a profit of $8.1 billion. In return, GM should put the welfare of its workers above perks for its top executives, and provide fair wages, affordable health care, and secure jobs.
“Two weeks ago I called on GM CEO Mary Barra to do the right thing by the planet and join her fellow automotive executives in adhering to California’s stringent emissions standards, over opposition from the Trump administration. Today, I ask her to do the right thing by her own workers.”
The CEO of @GM made nearly $22 million dollars last year—281 times the median GM worker.
I stand with the 46,000 @UAW members who have moved to strike, fighting for affordable health care and fair wages.
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) September 15, 2019
Several Michigan Democrats also weighed in. U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) wrote on Facebook that the UAW and its members “stepped up to the plate” during the domestic auto industry’s near-collapse last decade and now they deserve “to benefit during periods of profitability.”
U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.) said he supports the “UAW’s decision to employ American workers’ most serious tool to achieve a better deal. In its next contract with the UAW, GM must make as many jobs as possible permanent and full-time, ensure fair wages and good benefits for all employees, and assemble in the U.S. vehicles the company expects to sell in the U.S.
“I know that the union does not make the decision to strike lightly. I hope the strike will be brief and a resolution is reached quickly. I am optimistic the two sides can come together on a contract that accomplishes the twin goals of justice for workers and continuing success for GM.”
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) posted a short statement on Facebook that “our auto workers are the best in the world” and urged both sides to reach an agreement: