The UAW strike is now in its second week, and Republicans in Michigan and elsewhere are playing a ridiculous political game. After years of representing the interests of big business and resisting union-backed legislation, they claim to be a party concerned with the interests of striking autoworkers.
As you might expect, Donald Trump is leading the stunt. Over the weekend, he told NBC News that “autoworkers have been betrayed by their leadership, and their leadership should have supported Trump.” He and other Republicans seized on the argument that the Biden administration’s push for electric vehicles ( EV) is a betrayal of the country’s autoworkers, most of whom work in factories that make gasoline vehicles or their components.
Last week, I wrote about the thorny political challenge the UAW dispute poses for Biden, who must manage the tension between his landmark green energy policies and his sympathy for organized labor relation. At the White House on Friday, Biden defended striking autoworkers and called on automakers to ensure “record corporate profits mean record contracts for the United Auto Workers.” The White House also announced it was sending Biden senior adviser Gene Sperling and acting Labor Secretary Julie Su to Detroit.
Meanwhile, Trump and Republicans see an opportunity to flip Michigan, which the former president narrowly won in 2016. They are also eyeing the U.S. Senate seat vacated in January 2025 by four-term Democrat Debbie Stabenow. The National Republican Senatorial Committee issued a statement claiming that Democratic congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, who is running to replace Stabenow, “chose her party over the state of Michigan by voting to ban gas vehicles,” Politico reported. (The statement referred to Slotkin’s vote last week against a House Republican bill that would have blocked state efforts to restrict sales of gasoline-powered cars.) Even former Vice President Mike Pence, a prominent working-class forum, expressed an opinion. Democrats provided huge subsidies for the purchase of electric vehicles in last year’s Inflation Cut Act. “Using taxpayer dollars to move our auto economy toward electric vehicles understandably causes great anxiety among UAW members,” Pence told CNN.
Politics is politics, but the sight of senior Republicans posing as true friends of union workers is so bizarre it’s almost laughable. Since Trump, Republicans have spent decades siding with employers and trying to thwart union efforts to organize workplaces and raise wages. While the Republican Party seeks to reposition itself as the party of workers, its actions make a mockery of that claim.
Starting with Trump. After taking power in 2017, he restored the Republican majority on the five-member National Labor Relations Board, a body created during the New Deal to support workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively. Trump appointed former House Republican staffer Marvin Kaplan as chairman of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Under Republican leadership, the agency moved quickly to overturn several pro-labor rulings issued during the Obama administration, including one that gave workers quick access to accommodations. – Organize food franchises. This pro-employer bias has continued throughout Trump’s term. In December 2019, the agency issued two rulings that introduced new restrictions on union voting and made it easier for companies to classify workers as independent contractors, thereby depriving them of union wage standards and benefits.
Contrast that record with actions by the National Labor Relations Board under Biden, which appointed two former union lawyers to the board and another former union lawyer, Jennifer Abruzzo, as general counsel. Over the past few years, the agency has rescinded many Trump-era rulings, including those related to voting procedures and independent contractors. Last month, the National Labor Council ruled that if a company engages in intimidating behavior during union elections, such as firing union organizers, the agency will order the company to recognize the union and engage in collective bargaining. In a separate ruling, the National Labor Council set out new rules for union votes, requiring timely voting and limiting the practice of employers delaying votes, which is common.
Labor activists and commentators sympathetic to unions praised the decisions.write for America’s prospectsHarold Meyerson hailed the NLRB’s anti-intimidation statute as “the most significant ruling in decades.” Meyerson added that the combined issuance of the two rulings “effectively makes union organizing possible again, after decades of impunity for illegal employer behavior that caused the nation’s private-sector unionization rate to drop from approximately 35 percent to just 5 percent.” The most decisive factor of 6%” today. “
As unionization rates have steadily declined, most Republicans have opposed legislative efforts to reverse the trend, including two bills that would make it easier for unions to organize: the Employee Free Choice Act, which the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed in 2007 passed the bill, as well as protecting the right to organize (Professional version) bill, passed by the House of Representatives in 2019 and again in 2021. (In the latter case, five Republicans voted for the bill; 205 did not vote.)
To paraphrase an old saying, actions speak louder than words. On Friday, Rep. Slotkin traveled to a Ford assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, and spoke with some striking UAW workers. Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and John Fetterman, D-Pennsylvania, were also on the picket lines. Bernie Sanders denounces “corporate greed” at UAW rally in Detroit. What about Trump and Pence and other Republican UAW stalwarts? So far, they’ve been conspicuously absent. on Monday, era According to reports, Trump plans to visit Detroit on September 27, the day of the second debate between Republican candidates, and speak to a group of workers, including auto workers. What kind of reception he receives remains to be seen. “Every ounce of our union’s strength is invested in fighting the billionaire class,” UAW President Shawn Fain said in a statement after the convention. and an economic fight that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers.” era Stories emerge. ❖