Light Wave


Dems desperately woo UAW after slamming workers with inflation, EVs

By CM Chaney · September 19, 2023

In brief…

  • Bernie Sanders spoke to striking UAW workers, accusing auto CEOs of greed and calling for fair contracts with big raises for workers.
  • Even so, many UAW workers are unconvinced by Biden's pro-union rhetoric, citing high inflation and less concern for Detroit over the last two and a half years.
  • The strike highlights challenges for Democrats maintaining blue-collar support as wages fail to keep up with rising prices and Washington presses for money-losing EVs.
Many Union Auto Workers remain unconvinced by Democrats' pro-union rhetoric in the face of high inflation, $90 oil, and Party's push for money-losing EVs.  Thomas Good/Wikimedia

Senator Bernie Sanders spoke at a rally for striking United Auto workers in Detroit, accusing auto company CEOs of “greed” and calling on them to negotiate fair contracts with significant raises.

The workers are seeking nearly 40% raises over four years from Ford, GM, and Stellantis as well as an end to two-tier wage systems that have long plagued the industry.

Sanders said productivity gains from technology should benefit workers and endorsed the union’s push for a four-day work week.

Even so, striking workers questioned Democratic policies on energy and money-losing electric vehicles. They cast doubt on President Joe Biden’s pro-union rhetoric, asking if the nation’s chief executive truly stands with them, cited a toxic combination of inflation and eroding wages, which have left them struggling financially.

Jennifer Banks, a Ford employee of 29 years, told the New York Times she can’t tell if Biden’s remarks are “genuine” and hopes someone can replace him in 2024. While Biden has emphasized his working-class roots, workers say neither party fights for the middle class now.

Some noted Trump’s mixed record with unions, but said he appealed to them on issues such as immigration.

Younger and nonwhite workers were less critical of Biden overall. But many said their wages have not kept up with rising costs under Biden, forcing them to live paycheck to paycheck.

The lengthy strike could force the Fed to keep interest rates high, potentially hurting Biden’s reelection bid.

In spite of Democratic promises to rebuild industrial jobs and GOP assurances they can manage inflation, many autoworkers do not see either party as fully serving the working class. Meanwhile, the workers are split on social issues.

Many political analysts believe UAW votes will be up for grabs in 2024. Bad news for the traditionally labor-friendly Democratic Party.