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Vice President Joe Biden, Sarah Rosen Wartell, Lawrence Mishel
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Labor Contract Talks Commence Between President Biden and UAW Chief

President Biden and United Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain engaged in a pivotal meeting at the White House on Wednesday, marking the start of labor contract discussions between the union and the renowned “Big Three” automakers: General Motors, Stellantis, and Ford.

The talks took place within the hallowed halls of the West Wing, as reported by a White House official to Reuters. According to Fain, the main focus of the discussion was to explore various available options and ascertain the potential path forward.

A spokesperson for the UAW conveyed to Politico that Fain sought the President’s support in the contract negotiations, urging him to leverage his “bully pulpit” and push for more robust labor provisions linked to federal grants and loans, funded through the Inflation Reduction Act.

It is worth noting that Fain had recently declined to endorse President Biden for re-election, but he firmly reiterated the union’s stance against supporting former President Trump.

Fain’s Expectations and Warnings

“We have expectations, and that’s why we haven’t made endorsements yet. We expect people to be there for us if they want our endorsement,” asserted Fain, emphasizing the significance of meeting the union’s expectations.

Earlier in June, Fain, representing 150,000 hourly workers at the U.S. automakers, criticized the Department of Energy’s plan to allocate more than $9 billion to Ford and South Korea’s SK On for constructing three U.S. battery plants. He also hinted at the possibility of a strike against all three automakers if new contracts are not finalized before the September 14 deadline.

Negotiations Commence with “Big Three”

Negotiations with Stellantis commenced last Thursday, while Ford’s talks started last Friday, and General Motors began its discussions on Tuesday.

“September 14th is a deadline, not a reference point, so it is in the best interest for this corporation to get down to business with our bargaining committee and get to work to resolve the demands of the membership,” stated Fain at the opening session with Stellantis.

He further expressed disappointment at the delayed start of the negotiations due to the tardiness of Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares, juxtaposing it with the company’s focus on worker absenteeism.

Positive Outlook from Stellantis

In contrast, Stellantis showed optimism, affirming that the initial session with the union went well and they plan to approach further discussions with respect.

UAW’s Solidarity with Other Industries

On Monday, the UAW took to Twitter to express solidarity with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) during their ongoing strikes. The UAW highlighted the common fight against corporate executives’ excessive earnings while the industry workers struggle to make ends meet.

Fain’s Message to Workers

During his meeting with workers on Wednesday, Fain encouraged solidarity, stating that the automakers possess the resources to address their issues related to cost-of-living, support for retirees, job security, and ending wage disparities. However, he emphasized the need for collective efforts, stating, “This is about you. This is about our next generation.”

GM’s Support for UAW

GM spokesperson Jeannine Ginivan expressed confidence in the UAW, citing their historic and constructive relationship within the automotive industry.

Fox Business reached out to the Big Three for comment, but responses were not immediately available.

In conclusion, the labor contract discussions between the UAW and the Big Three automakers have commenced, with Shawn Fain seeking support from President Biden. As negotiations unfold, workers’ expectations and demands remain at the forefront of discussions, with the September 14 deadline looming in the background. The UAW’s solidarity with other industries underscores their commitment to fair treatment and wages for workers across different sectors, further strengthening their position in the ongoing negotiations. As the talks progress, all eyes are on the outcomes that will shape the future of the automotive industry and its workforce.

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