Biden’s top economic advisor urges Detroit automakers and UAW to avoid a strike

The current contract between auto manufacturers and the UAW ends Sept. 14.

A United Auto Workers member holds a sign in the Labor Day parade in Detroit, Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

A United Auto Workers member holds a sign in the Labor Day parade in Detroit, Monday, Sept. 4, 2023.

The Biden administration’s top economic adviser is echoing the president’s call for automakers and the United Auto Workers union to reach a new contract that’s fair to all parties involved.

President Biden reportedly understands both sides of the negotiations, playing a lead role when the Obama administration helped bail out General Motors and Chrysler in 2009.

The head of Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers, Jared Bernstein, says Biden wants automakers in a strong position. But Bernstein says workers deserve a slice of the profits — and Biden’s push for electric vehicles includes incentives for automakers to use union members to build them.

“Even if it does take fewer workers to build an EV — if we’re building more EVs here, that can make up the difference,” Bernstein says.

Read: UAW’s clash with Big 3 automakers shows off a more confrontational union as strike deadline looms

UAW officials want Detroit’s Big 3 to provide assurances EV plants and facilities will not leave union workers behind.

Bernstein calls Biden the most “pro-union” U.S. president in recent history.

“So he has long understood the importance of both sides of that equation. Robust businesses that are profitable, but also the importance of worker bargaining power so that profitability gets shared,” states Bernstein. “If you’re helping to bake the pie you oughta get a fair slice.”

The traditionally Democratic-leaning UAW has yet to endorse Biden or anyone else for president — in part because they fear his push for electric vehicles could cost union jobs.

Editor’s note: Some employees of WDET are members of UAW Local 1979 — a different bargaining group that’s unaffected by these negotiations.

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  • Quinn Klinefelter
    Quinn Klinefelter is a Senior News Editor at 101.9 WDET. In 1996, he was literally on top of the news when he interviewed then-Senator Bob Dole about his presidential campaign and stepped on his feet.