Dem presidential hopefuls back UAW workers in strike

(clockwise) Bernie Sanders, Julian Castro, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden | Andrew Roth photos

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.

UAW set to go on strike Sunday night

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”:

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote on Twitter that she urges “GM to come to the table and negotiate in good faith”:

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg tweeted he was “proud to stand” with workers:

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.”

Former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro noted on Twitter that GM CEO Mary Barra made about $22 million last year:

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:

 

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Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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