United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain said Sunday that the union is rejecting an offer from one of the Big Three automakers for a 21% wage increase as autoworkers for Ford, General Motors and Chrysler parent company Stellantis.
UAW leadersfor a four-day work week, substantial pay raises, more paid time off and pension benefits, among other demands.
"Our demands are just," Fain told "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "We're asking for our fair share in this economy and the fruits of our labor."
Chrysler parent Stellantis said Saturday it had put a cumulative 21% wage increase on the table, with an immediate 10% increase upon a formal agreement. Fain said the union has asked for 40% pay increasesof the CEOs at the three companies in recent years.
"It's definitely a no-go," Fain said about the 21% pay hike offered. "We've made that very clear to the companies.
Fain said the autoworkers are "fed up with falling behind," arguing that the companies have seen massive profits in the last decade while the workers "went backwards."
"Our wages went backwards," he said. "Our benefits have went backwards. The majority of our members have zero retirement security now.
"Face the Nation" moderator Margaret Brennan asked Fain if autoworkers would be walking out at other plants, Fain said they are "prepared to do whatever we have to do, so the membership is ready, the membership is fed up, we're fed up with falling behind."
Brennan asked Fain how he makes the case that automakers need to invest more in union workers when the labor costs of competitors who don't use union labor, such as Tesla and Toyota, are significantly lower.
"First off, labor costs are about 5% of the cost of the vehicle," Fain said. "They could double our wages and not raise the price of the vehicles and still make billions in profits. It's a choice. And the fact that they want to compare it to how pitiful Tesla pays their workers and other companies pay their workers — that's what this whole argument is about. Workers in this country got to decide if they want a better life for themselves, instead of scraping to get by paycheck to paycheck, while everybody else walks away with the loot."
President Biden, who has referred to himself as the most pro-union president in recent history, weighed in on the strike on Friday.
"Companies have made some significant offers, but I believe it should go further — to ensure record corporate profits mean record contracts," Mr. Biden.
Mr. Biden is deploying two of his top administration officials — acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and senior adviser Gene Sperling — to Detroit as negotiations continue. A senior administration official said Sunday that Su and Sperling will not be acting as mediators, but are going "to help support the negotiations in any way the parties feel is constructive."
Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, told "Face the Nation" that the president should not "intervene or be at the negotiating table."
"I don't think they've got a role at the negotiating table," she said.
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