With a major uptick in strikes this year — from the Rutgers University strike and impending Southwest airline worker strike to the much more notorious WGA writers’ strike and the SAG-AFTRA actors’ strike — the United Auto Workers’ strike is another in a series of workers’ efforts to get what they rightfully deserve from their employers. After the COVID-19 pandemic caused auto companies to make cuts to workers’ livelihoods under the guise of crisis-induced sacrifices, auto workers have been enraged by the seemingly permanent nature of these cuts. As such, they joined their fellow workers in demanding an increase to their pay and benefits and went on a strike that now spans 20 states and 38 parts-distribution centers. The main targets of this strike so far have been Jeep, Ram, and General Motors, with the strikes surrounding Ford having been limited due to negotiations coming more quickly.
In a year largely defined by strikes, it is worthy to note the especially historic nature of this movement, in particular. On Tuesday, September 26, President Joe Biden himself went to Michigan and stood at the picket line with striking auto workers. He backed a 40% pay raise and told them to “stick with it.” He told the auto workers that they deserved to be doing as well as the companies that employed them
The era of Joe Biden’s presidency has been tumultuous — riddled with inflation, war, and environmental disasters. This, however, is one moment that will be truly historical. This is the first time a sitting U.S president has ever joined union members at a picket line. His rallying calls to keep going and his high goals for pay hikes are unprecedented.
Of course, there have been concerns around Biden’s presence at the UAW strike. Some people fear that his presence would politicize the strike, especially considering that Biden’s visit came after former President Donald Trump attempted to win over the auto workers as well by skipping the Republican presidential debate in California to speak at a non-union factory in Michigan. The combined visits caused problems with politicization that some union workers deemed inappropriate for the time and even cast doubt on how much the dueling politicians even cared for the workers themselves. Regardless, a sitting president’s presence at a picket line was unheard of until recently. As striking and union support continue to grow, Joe Biden and future presidents could keep an eye on this trend for political support.
Sophomore Chessie Bovasso is a Staff Writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.