Early Monday, thousands of United Automobile Workers (UAW) union members began a national strike of General Motors in what many feared might turn out to be a painful and ultimately costly showdown between workers and management. According to Politico, the Trump administration is trying to save both sides the trouble by intervening in a way that aligns more with the goals of the union, a move that could end up having a significant impact on the 2020 election. The White House, however, denies the claim.
In what is the union’s first national strike in over a decade, UAW members, including those employed at the GM plant in Flint, Michigan, picked up the picket signs early Monday and called on the company’s leadership to come to terms with embattled union leaders for higher wages, increased job security, and better health care coverage. The national strike involves around 48,000 UAW members employed by GM.
The Detroit Free Press reported Monday that the strike could end up costing GM around $400 million a day, while the striking autoworkers would find themselves taking home just $250 a week in strike wages from the UAW’s $850 million fund. As workers told reporters that they feared the fallout of the impasse, the White House has reportedly decided to step in on the side of the union — or at least that’s what Politico’s sources say.
“The White House is seeking to end the United Auto Workers strike against General Motors with an agreement that would reopen an assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio that GM shut down in March,” Politico reported Tuesday. The White House’s efforts would effectively align the administration with the UAW.
“Federal mediation is always possible, if that’s what they want,” Trump told the press Monday, in comments reported by Politico. “Hopefully, they’ll be able to work out the GM strike quickly. We don’t want General Motors building plants outside of this country.”
Citing “two people close to the matter,” Politico names both National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow and White Houst trade and manufacturing adviser Peter Navarro as allegedly being engaged in the discussions.
While the move could end up helping Trump in both Michigan and Ohio in 2020 — both states which were key in his electoral victory in 2016 and in which his approval ratings have been declining — Deputy Press Sec. Judd Deere told Politico that its big “White House intervenes” scoop is “false.”
“This story is false,” Deere told the left-leaning outlet. “The Trump Administration, including Larry Kudlow and Peter Navarro, are not involved in the negotiations between the UAW and GM. As President Trump has said, we would like to see a fair and speedy conclusion to these talks.”
In its coverage of the strike the Detroit Free Press spoke to a number of the striking UAW members, some of whom expressed concern about the potential impact of the walkout.
“My concern is not just for myself, but for the many other families that are affected by this strike,” UAW member Ralph Burchart told the Free Press’s Phoebe Wall Howard. “Our kids are grown and married, but I have co-workers with younger children who would have a much harder time of it if this is an extended strike. My hope and prayer is that a reasonable contract that benefits both parties would be agreed upon sooner rather than later.”
This article has been revised for clarity.