Biden Joins the Picket Line: A Milestone in the UAW Strike

President Joe Biden made history this week.

by Faruk Imamovic
Biden Joins the Picket Line: A Milestone in the UAW Strike
© Getty Images News/Rebecca Noble

President Joe Biden made history this week. Setting aside the usual boundaries of presidential engagements, Biden physically joined the picket line of the United Auto Workers (UAW) in their ongoing strike against leading automobile manufacturers.

This unprecedented visit comes amidst the backdrop of a series of labor disputes that have caught the nation's attention.

"Picketeer-in-Chief" Backs Union's Push for Fairness

On a crisp Tuesday morning, against the roar of crowds and placards waving in solidarity, Biden stood side-by-side with the UAW members striking against General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis.

Grabbing a bullhorn, the president voiced his support, reminding the crowd of their significant contribution to the auto industry during its troubled times. “You guys saved the automobile industry,” Biden declared, “You made a lot of sacrifices.

You gave up a lot when the companies were in trouble. Now they’re doing incredibly well. And guess what? You should be doing incredibly well, too”. However, this wasn’t just about a president showing support.

The strike itself is breaking barriers. Remarkably, this is the first instance when the UAW has simultaneously boycotted all three unionized automakers. The core dispute? Wages. While the automakers have proposed immediate pay raises of at least 10% and subsequent pay hikes that could elevate hourly wages by about 20% by 2028, these offers have met with refusal by the union.

The Rising Tide of Union Successes

According to Art Wheaton, the director of labor studies at Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations school in Buffalo, New York, this has been a notable year for unions.

You’ve seen a lot of successes, and that will help going forward. I give them a B+. Not an A”. Wheaton's observations hint at the broader context in which this strike takes place: a national reevaluation of workers' rights and the power dynamics between corporations and their employees.

Concluding his visit, Biden left a resonating message for the determined strikers: “You deserve what you’ve earned, and you’ve earned a hell of a lot more than you’re getting paid now”. In an era where labor movements are making headlines, the president's involvement underscores the significance of the ongoing battles for fair compensation and working conditions.

With this latest development, all eyes are on the UAW strike, with many wondering how it will reshape the landscape of labor relations in the country.

Joe Biden